The US House of Representatives narrowly defeated an amendment to the Homeland Security Appropriations bill Thursday which would have prevented funds from being used to support US operations in the NATO-led air campaign in Libya.
Offered by Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), the amendment, which would have banned funds from being “used in contravention of war powers resolution,” was defeated in a close 213-208 vote. A switch of a mere three votes would have seen the measure pass.
The War Powers Act of 1973 requires the White House to request authority from Congress to engage in any military operations overseas lasting more than 60 days.
Sherman and others argue that President Barack Obama is outside the scope of the War Powers Act and must get a blessing from Congress to continue current operations against Col. Moamar Ghadafi in Libya.
The vote on Sherman’s amendment is separate from another Libya resolution authored by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), which is expected to come up on the House floor Friday and which seeks an immediate withdrawal of US forces from the NATO-led campaign in the war-torn country.
Republican leadership has warned that many of its members may support the anti-war congressman’s resolution due to dissatisfaction with the lack of a “clear mission.”
House Republicans were meeting Thursday afternoon to discuss how to vote on the measure which is causing a political headache for the White House.
House Majority leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) admitted that the situation in Libya made for an odd political alliance.
“It’s counterintuitive to think that we would support Dennis Kucinich,” Cantor said Thursday, according to Roll Call magazine. “I mean, here’s a guy who’s anti-war, anti-military, and we’re going to support him?”
The Pentagon has declared its firm opposition to the Kucinich resolution, calling it “dangerous.”
“Secretary Gates believes that for the United States, once committed to a NATO operation, to unilaterally abandon that mission would have enormous and dangerous long-term consequences,” spokesman Geoff Morrell said in a statement.