Congress defunds Libyan war

AFP Photo / Gianluigi Guercia
Obama’s war in Libya just got a little harder to fund. The House of Representatives voted on Tuesday to halt financing of American operation in Libya, adopting an amendment to a military appropriations bill by a vote of 248 to 163.

Speaker of the House John Boehner has spoken out against President Barack Obama, marking the second incident today where Congress has condemned Obama’s actions regarding US military operations in Libya.

In a letter to the president issued this afternoon, Boehner warns Obama that, lest he acts by this Sunday—the 90-day point US American occupation in Libya—the president will be in clear violation of the War Powers Resolution.

“The Speaker is seeking a clear explanation of the legal standing under the War Powers Resolution by which the administration believes it has the authority to continue operations after Sunday, June 19, 2011,” the letter reads in part.

Boehner goes on to say that “the House is left to conclude that you have made one of two determinations: either you have concluded the War Powers Resolution does not apply to the mission in Libya, or you have determined the War Powers Resolution is contrary to the Constitution. “

“The House, and the American people whom we represent, deserve to know the determination you have made,” he says.

Earlier in the day the House of Representatives voted on to halt the financing of American operation in Libya, adopting an amendment to a military appropriations bill by a vote of 248 to 163.

The legislation was proposed by Rep. Brad Sherman from California, a Democrat.

The action comes largely as a response to Obama’s unwillingness to abide by the War Powers Resolution, which requires the president to seek congressional authorization to send troops into combat or else withdraw forces within 60 days. Obama surpassed the deadline last month.

While Obama’s occupation of Libya is inarguably unconstitutional, the Senate must still approve the bill before it is passed. Earlier this month the House reprimanded the president for his unauthorized entry into the warzone and demanded he explain the necessity of the occupation—as well as the cost—by June 17. The president has yet to follow through with their demands.

If President Obama wants to keep troops in Libya at this point—legally—it is up for the commander in chief to convince the Senate not to vote in the same vein as Congress.

The text of Sherman’s bill states that "none of the funds made available by this act may be used in contravention of the War Powers Act." Adds Sherman, “We cannot bring democracy and the rule of law to Libya without safeguarding democracy and the rule of law in the United States.”

“The War Powers Resolution is the law of the land, and we should not facilitate or tolerate its violation, even for a purportedly worthy cause,” Sherman says.

A Rasmussen poll released this week found that only one-in-four of America is in favor of continued military action in Libya. Only a third, however, think it is “somewhat likely” that the US will end its involvement before 2012; half of America thinks occupation will continue into the new year.