This was a vote on final passage of legislation that would have allowed federal funds to be used only for limited purposes in Libya, including search and rescue missions, surveillance and intelligence gathering, and aerial refueling (in-flight refueling for military aircraft).
Rep. Tom Rooney (R-FL), the sponsor of this bill, urged House members to support it: “…Today we have the opportunity to send a message to the executive branch, and this transcends party but it exerts our power under the separation of powers, to say we, the House of Representatives, are relevant; we, the House of Representatives, are exercising our ability that the Founding Fathers gave us in the ability to declare war because they wanted us to have this deliberation, this debate that we're having here today, arguments that have been made on both sides that have been very good, because the last thing that we want as Americans is for some president, whether it's this president or some future president, to be able to pick fights around the world without any debate from another branch of government.”
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) also supported the bill: “Why are we there [in Libya]? Are we there to kill Qadhafi or to provide humanitarian aid?...And who are these rebels that we are supporting? The administration has failed to provide Congress with a clear answer to this question, but we do know that some of them are tied to terrorist organizations. The bill introduced by my good friend from Florida (Mr. Rooney) reasserts Congress' role as a coequal branch of government, and it sends a clear message to the president that he must get congressional approval before he commits this nation to war…”
Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) opposed the bill: “…What this resolution [bill] would do…would be to end our mission in Libya. So all of the debates and arguments that you heard from the previous discussion apply to this just as well. It has some limited options in terms of what the president could continue to do in support of NATO, but it very specifically disallows any effort at air support, any effort at suppressing opposition fire. It does allow for aerial refueling. It allows for rescue missions, but what the military has made clear is they will not do that without all of the other assets that are necessary to suppress enemy fire. We are not going to send up our aerial refueling apparatus or aerial refueling planes if we know we can't protect them from being shot down.”
Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) also opposed the bill: “…If this resolution [bill] passes, and we weaken NATO's mission, Qadhafi may very well prevail. His forces will then kill, rape, and torture all those Libyans who opposed him, as he has already tried to do. Qadhafi has reportedly kidnapped thousands of people, including young students to serve as human shields and march at the vanguard of his forces. If any of his own soldiers refuse to gun down unarmed innocent civilians, they're shot immediately. Once he's done with his own people, he'll turn his attention to those NATO and Middle Eastern nations that attacked him and seek revenge….Let's face it. This is not about whether the Obama administration has been thorough enough in explaining the Libya rationale to Congress….The real question is, will we politicize this effort in the same way that the Republican Congress politicized President Clinton's successful intervention in a NATO-led mission in Bosnia 15 years ago?”
The House rejected this bill by a vote of 180-238. Voting “yea” were 144 Republicans and 36 Democrats. 149 Democrats—including a majority of progressives—and 89 Republicans voted “nay.” As a result, the House rejected legislation that would have allowed federal funds to be used only for limited purposes in Libya, including search and rescue missions, surveillance and intelligence gathering, and aerial refueling.