The House of Representatives has rejected a measure to authorize the kinetic military action in Libya, which the Administration has described as lacking in the level of “hostility” to be described as a war.
This was a non-binding resolution, essentially a political statement, whose defeat in a 295-123 vote counts as a symbolic rebuke of the President’s launch and prosecution of the non-hostile kinetic military action. Fun fact: the bill’s sponsor was Rep. Alcee Hastings of Florida.
Eight Republicans broke ranks to support the resolution, including representatives Peter King (NY), Steve King (IA), Thad McCotter (MI), Charles Dent (PA), David Dreier (CA), David Rivera (FL), Mike Rogers (MI), and Adam Kinzinger (IL).
Kinzinger explained his support for the resolution by asking, “Now will we today pull the rug out from under them, simply because we have a dispute between the legislative and the executive branch?” I think that means the executive branch automatically wins all military disputes with the legislature, since the War Powers Act is a dead letter, and Congress therefore has no power to assert itself except through rug-pulling. This should greatly streamline future war efforts, assuming the Democrats intend to honor the Kinzinger standards for Republican presidents.
A more substantial resolution was also considered, which would withdraw funding for the Libyan NHKMA. This measure, sponsored by Rep. Tom Rooney (R-FL), failed 238-180. “Over 30 Democrats voted to defund the NATO-led mission, while more than 80 Republicans voted against the measure,” according to MSNBC. Even if it had passed the House, the measure would have been all but guaranteed to die in a semi-hostile non-kinetic fashion in the Senate.
We don’t talk about “victory” in the context of military operations any more, so onward to whatever passes for victory in Libya!
Update: Some of the Republicans who voted against the measure that would have cut off funding for the Libyan NHKMA are explaining that they didn’t think it went far enough.
Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA) wrote to House Speaker John Boehner: “This bill purports to cut off funding for combat in Libya. In doing so, it simply forbids what the Constitution already forbids: the waging of war without explicit congressional authorization.”
He went on to review how the measure grants “Congressional authority to engage in every conceivable belligerent act short of actually pulling the trigger,” and encouraged his fellow Republicans not to “enter a war through the back door when we’ve already decided not to enter it through the front.”
Rep. Allen West (R-FL) added via Twitter, “We must stop funding Libya – without exception!”