(H. Res. 292) On passage of a resolution reprimanding President Obama for not seeking authorization from Congress for military action in Libya, and calling on the president to submit a report to Congress clarifying and justifying the U.S. mission in that country. This resolution also expressed opposition to the use of U.S ground troops in Libya, or more specifically, “the presence of units and members of the United States Armed Forces on the ground in Libya.”
This was a vote on passage of a resolution sponsored by Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) reprimanding President Obama for not seeking authorization from Congress for military action in Libya, and calling on the president to submit a report to Congress clarifying and justifying the U.S. mission in that country. This resolution also expressed opposition to the use of U.S ground troops in Libya, or more specifically, “the presence of units and members of the United States Armed Forces on the ground in Libya.”
On March 19, 2011, the U.S. joined an international coalition (that included France, the United Kingdom, Spain, and Canada) to intervene in Libya’s civil war. This coalition aided rebels who had staged an uprising against the country’s dictator, Muammar Gaddafi, who had ruled Libya since 1969 and whose regime was notorious for human rights violations. On April 4, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO—an international coalition of 28 member countries) assumed operational control of the military mission in Libya.
This resolution, which was non-binding--meaning it did not have the force of law--was one of two measures relating to U.S. military action in Libya. Unlike a separate resolution offered by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Boehner’s measure did not invoke the War Powers Resolution--which requires the president to obtain congressional authorization for a commitment of U.S troops to an armed conflict lasting more than 60 days—or call on President Obama to withdraw U.S. troops from Libya. Rather, it criticized the president for his failure to obtain congressional authorization for military action and called on Obama to submit a report justifying and clarifying the U.S. military’s mission in Libya.
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) urged support for Boehner’s resolution, and expressed opposition to requiring the president to withdraw U.S. forces from Libya: “Members on both sides of the aisle are increasingly frustrated. I share that frustration. Many question the importance of Libya to U.S. interests, and especially the need for military engagement. Many more are outright angry about the disregard with which the President and his administration have treated Congress on the Libya military engagement. But it is not surprising that there is a desire to simply say `enough' and to force the President to withdraw precipitously, regardless of the consequences. But I believe that we would only make a difficult situation worse by taking such drastic action. The negative impact would be widespread…The news that the U.S. House of Representatives had mandated a withdrawal of U.S. forces would send a ray of sunshine into the hole in which Qadhafi is currently hiding. It would ensure his hold on power. It would be seen not only in Libya, but throughout the Middle East and North Africa as open season to threaten U.S. interests and destabilize our allies.”
Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA) opposed Boehner’s resolution: “If the members of the House choose to pass the Speaker's one-Chamber resolution, it should add one finding: that we declare ourselves to be one big constitutionally created potted plant. This resolution casts all kinds of aspersions on the president. It states the President has failed to provide Congress with a compelling rationale for operations in Libya. It implies that there has been a withholding of documents and information from this body. Could the President provide more information to the Congress? Of course. But we need to look not just at the president's failure to seek an authorization, but the refusal of this body to exercise its authority in this area. The onus rests with us to recognize the sacred duty of authorizing the use of force. A resolution like this, with no operative language, with no invocation of the War Powers Resolution…simply perpetuates a dynamic of congressional acquiescence and acquiescence that, for the most part, has gone on truly since the Korean War.”
The House passed Boehner’s resolution by a vote of 268-145. Voting “yea” were 223 Republicans and 45 Democrats. 135 Democrats--including a majority of progressives—and 10 Republicans voted “nay.” As a result the House agreed to a resolution reprimanding President Obama for not seeking authorization from Congress for military action in Libya, and calling on the president to submit a report to Congress clarifying and justifying the U.S. mission in that country. Since Boehner’s resolution was non-binding, however, it had no legal effect on U.S. policy in Libya, and had no legal authority to require President Obama to comply with the measure.