The House narrowly voted Thursday to ban financial assistance to rebel leaders in Libya, marking the first time the chamber has voted to impose any funding limitations on the U.S. military effort in the North African nation.
The 225-201 vote, which was on an amendment to the fiscal 2012 defense appropriations bill, came after months of debate in the House over whether President Barack Obama violated the War Powers Act. Later in the evening, the House approved an amendment offered by Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) that would prohibit the use of funds for missions that violate the War Powers Act. It was approved on a 316-111 vote.
“The reality is, we should not be engaged in military action of this level unless it’s authorized and funded by the Congress of the United States,” said Rep. Tom Cole, who sponsored the amendment that would ban the Defense Department from using money to assist rebel groups that want to act against Libya.
“In Libya, the president has quite simply overreached,” the Oklahoma Republican said in a floor statement.
A further-reaching amendment to ban all funds from the Libya mission, sponsored by Reps. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) and Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), was defeated, 199-229.
The House agreed to another Libya-related amendment late Thursday by voice vote. The amendment by Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) would prohibit funding for deploying troops on the ground in Libya for military operations unless they are part of a mission to rescue U.S. soldiers, among other restrictions.
The House defeated two measures related to Libya on the same day last month. One would have restricted funding for the NATO-led mission in Libya, where civilians are protesting the regime of leader Moammar Gadhafi. The other would have authorized the mission for a year.
The Senate, like the House, is splintered on the issue of Libya and scrapped plans this week to consider a resolution authorizing the military effort.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, speaks with reporters in the Capitol after a speech on the Senate floor that accused the CIA of searching computers set up for Congressional staff for their research of interrogation programs.