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At Last, Kucinich Draws Republicans to a Cause

Bill Clark/Roll Call
Rep. Dennis Kucinich has long been a critic of military force, and lately he's drawn the surprising support of Republicans who are upset with the White House over Libya.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich is fighting for his seat back home, but on Capitol Hill the liberal lawmaker is finding some unusual allies.

The Ohio Democrat, who earlier this year rallied bipartisan opposition to the USA PATRIOT Act before it ultimately was reauthorized, reasserted his Congressional influence on issues of war and peace last week with his effort to end the nation's military involvement in Libya. House Republicans found themselves in the odd position of backing the efforts of the liberal gadfly before GOP leaders cobbled together their own resolution that was approved on the floor.

Kucinich's resolution was defeated Friday, but he said his efforts during the past two months prompted action in the House.

"I think the victory is in forcing the debate, because there wasn't going to be a debate except for this resolution," he said after the vote on his measure.

Kucinich's success in bringing a Libya resolution to floor was a major victory for the lawmaker who is often an outsider in the Democratic Caucus. Rep. Raúl Grijalva, co-chairman of the Progressive Caucus, said Friday's floor action proves that Kucinich still knows how to wield influence on matters he is most passionate about.

"Dennis, a good friend, has continued to play a very significant role," the Arizona Democrat said. Kucinich is "underappreciated sometimes by the caucus, but him bringing this issue to light, the war issue, issues of war and peace, I think he has moved this caucus in a direction, as we're seeing today, that without him I don't think we would've been here."

One of Kucinich's closest friends in the House, Rep. Steven LaTourette (R-Ohio), said it wasn't surprising that the Kucinich proposal drew Republican support, though he voted against it.

"There's a whole lot of currents. You have the people who are upset with the way [Obama] handled it. You have the Walter Joneses of the world who don't think we should be involved in anything and then these things are costing money," he said.

For Kucinich, it was a hard-fought effort. He delivered an hourlong speech on Libya in March to speak out against President Barack Obama's decision to support NATO in the fight against dictator Moammar Gadhafi. As Kucinich continued to express his frustrations over the following weeks, he was joined by scores of lawmakers from both sides. On Friday, a total of 87 Republicans supported Kucinich's resolution, compared with 61 Democrats.

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