“I’m looking to see what the language is,” the New Jersey Democrat said. “I don’t support ground troops, but I do support the effort that we have — I sponsored the no-fly zone.”
Lugar, usually an ally of the administration on foreign policy matters, is not the only Republican opposed to Obama’s Libya policy. Foreign Relations member Sen. Mike Lee (Utah) opposes Kerry-McCain, and Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) has prepared a joint resolution, which he may introduce next week, charging that the president defied the War Powers Act by failing to obtain Congress’ approval for military action within 60 days of going into Libya. Obama did send a letter on day 60 of the campaign expressing support for passage of the Kerry-McCain measure.
Sen. Johnny Isakson said the chamber might ultimately fail to approve any resolution dealing with Libya, because of the lack of consensus on the issue.
“Because there’s such divergent views, I don’t know that we would do anything,” said the Georgia Republican, who serves on Foreign Relations. “I certainly think the administration should adhere to the War Powers Act in terms of reporting to Congress. But I think that’s the issue: We already have a law in place that deals with accountability to the Congress, so I would rather the law be enforced than trying to get into resolutions that have a committee of 535 micromanaging a conflict.”
Sen. Mark Kirk, who follows foreign policy military matters, said the situation could soon be moot given the success of U.S. forces. The U.S., primarily through NATO, has acted to protect the rebels and civilians targeted by Gadhafi.
“I think the president is increasingly likely to win this war and not in the too-distant future. So any action by the Congress is increasingly likely to be irrelevant,” the Illinois Republican said. Asked what was likely to happen in the Senate, Kirk said, “Gridlock, because I think the U.S. victory is impending.”
The House resolution, authored by Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and passed last week while the Senate was in recess, enjoyed strong bipartisan support. In fact, its adoption helped doom a stronger resolution authored by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) that called for a complete withdrawal from Libya. On Wednesday, the Obama administration said it would respect the demands of the Boehner measure.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters Wednesday that the administration would answer the specific questions about U.S. involvement in Libya posed in the bill in the allotted two-week time frame. Although the announcement by the White House marked a victory for Boehner, his spokesman Michael Steel was giving no quarter Wednesday.
“The White House needs to address the serious questions that Congress and the American people have about its goals and strategy in Libya, and it has a significant amount of catching up to do,” Steel said. “Time is running out, and patience is wearing thin.”
Rep. Bill Cassidy has his blood drawn by Alesha Barbour during a free hepatitis screening in the Rayburn House Office Building hosted by the Congressional Viral Hepatitis Caucus to recognize "National Viral Hepatitis Testing Day."
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