WASHINGTON -- The Senate is lining up a vote on a resolution to express Congress’ support for continued U.S. military action in Libya, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Tuesday.
But the vote will not come before the week-long Memorial Day recess, Reid told reporters.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who introduced the resolution on Monday with Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), said it has recently gained momentum because the White House is now “in the mood to take it up.”
Administration officials were initially “a little bit conflicted” about endorsing it, McCain told reporters Tuesday, but now they “want to get the resolution done.”
The resolution is non-binding and doesn’t formally authorize military action in Libya; it simply conveys a sense of support for the limited U.S. military operations underway as part of the NATO mission in the region. But the measure would mark the first time that Congress is weighing in on the Libya mission since it began more than two months ago.
Specifically, the resolution "supports the limited use of military force by the United States in Libya as part of the NATO mission to enforce United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 (2011), as requested by the Transitional National Council, the Arab League, and the Gulf Cooperation Council." It also calls on Obama to regularly consult with Congress on Libya operations.
Critics of the U.S. role in Libya maintain that President Barack Obama is in violation of the War Powers Act because he never sought congressional approval to launch military operations. Obama maintains he doesn’t need Congress’ approval because he is only authorizing a limited military force. The War Powers Act allows the president to bypass Congress only in cases of "a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces."
McCain said the resolution is important because the Senate wants give a show of support for the steps Obama is taking and because the War Powers Act -- which McCain said he thinks is unconstitutional -- has “never been challenged in court."
It remains unclear how the House will approach the issue. A House GOP leadership aide said he is not aware of any Libya resolution being planned on the House side.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), one of Obama's most vocal critics on Libya, on Tuesday charged Obama with violations of international law during fiery remarks on the House floor.
“The war is unconstitutional," Kucinich said. "What are we doing there? Why does anyone think we can afford it? Why aren't we trying to find a path to peace so we aren’t called upon to spend more money there? These are questions we have to be asking; that's why Congress needs to say we're not going to spend more money there."