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Senate Sets Own Course on Libya

File Photo
Sens. John McCain (left) and John Kerry are sponsoring a bipartisan resolution approving of U.S. involvement in Libya.

The Senate appears unmoved by last week's House action on Libya, content to bring up a bipartisan resolution that would give the chamber's approval for U.S. operations in Libya.

Speaker John Boehner's resolution rebuked President Barack Obama for failing to receive Congressional approval for the NATO-led military action and demanded that the White House submit a justification for U.S. involvement within two weeks' time. But the Ohio Republican's resolution was not sent to the Senate, where leaders of both parties have chosen to defer to Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Armed Services ranking member John McCain (R-Ariz.).

McCain said he spoke with Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Monday and that he expects his bill to come up for debate either this week or next. He said he believes the Senate resolution will pass easily and says it should satisfy Members concerned that Obama hasn't complied with the War Powers Act, adding that it would be up to Reid and Kerry to determine how and when it hits the floor.

"I don't think the House activity is going to change anything that I know of," McCain said.

McCain's resolution, expressing support for Obama's Libya policy, is expected to receive a markup in the Foreign Relations Committee possibly as early as this week. It remains unclear if the handful of opponents to U.S. military involvement will grow to resemble the opposition in the House, where more than one-third of Republicans supported a resolution sponsored by anti-war liberal Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) calling for the U.S. to withdraw from Libya in 15 days.

Joining Kerry and McCain as sponsors of the supportive Libya resolution are Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Intelligence Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Intelligence ranking member Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). The bill endorses a limited role for the U.S. military in Libya, where protesters-turned-rebels have been battling forces loyal to dictator Moammar Gadhafi since February. It largely echoes Obama's current policy, given the United States has only committed to airstrikes that are intended to enforce a no-fly zone and an arms embargo.

The NATO-led action commenced to protect Libyan civilians targeted by Gadhafi because they supported his ouster. Obama has called for the strongman to relinquish power but has said regime change is not included in the U.S. mission. There appears to be sufficient support in the Senate at this point for the Kerry-McCain resolution to pass. Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) said he still needs to review the language but expects to be able to vote in favor.

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