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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Florida divided on what to do with Libya

The U.S. House today passed a nonbinding resolution rebuking President Obama for using the military in Libya without congressional approval, which was dramatic by itself. But GOP leaders scrambled to come up with the measure after it was clear another one -- demanded an end to U.S. involvement in the NATO-led operation -- could pass.

In both cases, Florida was divided.

On the resolution that passed, Democrat Kathy Castor joined Republicans in the rebuke, while Republican Allen West sided with Democrats. (vote count here)

"President Barack Obama is in violation of the law – plain and simple – and he must be held accountable," West said. "We don't need to give the President anymore time.  Many Americans, myself included, still don't understand how America is benefitting from having forces in Libya in the first place."

On the measure that failed, Castor and Alcee Hastings were with most Republicans in favor of withdrawing, while Republicans Gus Bilirakis, Mario Diaz-Balart, John Mica, David Rivera and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen joined the other Democrats. (vote count here)

Story on the votes here.

Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Tequesta: “Ultimately, I voted for both resolutions because each represents an improvement over the status quo, in which President Obama continues to ignore the Constitution and dismiss the role of Congress and the people we represent. Congress is the only branch of government with the power to declare war, and we must not cede that authority to the President or an international body like the United Nations.”

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami: “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.

“So 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 Qaddafi 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."

[Last modified: Friday, June 3, 2011 5:08pm]


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