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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Libya debate creates unusual political alliances in Florida, and on Capitol Hill



WASHINGTON — Capitol Hill is engulfed in debate over war, the strain on U.S. troops abroad and the financial toll in a time of economic strife. And it's not about Afghanistan.

On Friday, attention will quickly refocus on Libya, with the House expected to vote on measures that cut to the overarching question of U.S. involvement and the anger resulting from President Barack Obama's refusal to seek congressional approval for the military mission.

The competing votes — one to endorse the effort, the other to cut off funding — highlight unusual political alliances that have formed for and against the NATO-led bombing campaign, now in its third month.

The divide nationally is reflected in Florida's House delegation, one of the nation's biggest and a mix of veterans and political newcomers.

On one side, Democrats who support the effort (or at least are unwilling to buck the president) are positioned with Republican hawks. On the other, fiscally conservative Republicans who were elected last November and who hold rigid constitutional views find themselves aligned with anti-war Democrats.

"We can't keep committing U.S. military to 'protect innocent civilians'; they're exhausted," vented Rep. Allen West, a freshman Republican and tea party star from South Florida.

"America can't do it all," said Democratic Rep. Kathy Castor of Tampa. (story here)

[Last modified: Thursday, June 23, 2011 9:01pm]


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