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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

U.S. House -- and Florida -- sends mixed signals on Libya



The House today refused to authorize authorizing U.S. involvement in Libya, marking the first time since 1999 that Congres has voted against a president's authority to carry out a military operation. But the House also voting against a bill to cut off funding for offensive military action. Here's how Florida voted:

On resolution supporting the Obama administration, all Democrats voted yes, along with Miami Republican Rep. David Rivera. All other Republicans voted against the authorization.

On the bill cutting funding, 10 of Florida's 19 Republicans voted yes: Gus Bilirakis, Vern Buchanan, Ander Crenshaw, Connie Mack, John Mica, Jeff Miller, Tom Rooney, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Dan Webster and C.W. Bill Young. Republicans voting no were, Sandy Adams, Mario Diaz-Balart, Rich Nugent, Bill Posey, David Rivera, Dennis Ross, Steve Southerland, Cliff Stearns and Allen West. All six Florida Democrats voted no.

"Today’s resolutions simply attempt to find an antiseptic middle road to avoid the difficult questions," Ross said. "Either we declare war and support victory or we remove our troops from harm’s way. The troops deserve a definitive answer and the taxpayers deserve an accountable Congress.”

More reaction below.

“The White House has failed to justify our involvement in Libya,” said Buchanan. “The last thing we need is another open-ended military commitment that is not vital to America’s national security. We cannot afford to be the world’s policeman.”

Southerland voted against both and explained that he was against any spending in Libya. "In an overwhelmingly bipartisan voice, Congress sent a message to the Obama Administration that its willful disregard for the Constitution and our burgeoning fiscal crisis will not stand.” 

Democrat Alcee Hastings sponsored the first measure. “I’m deeply disappointed that my sensible middle of the road measure didn’t pass the House earlier today, and I’m astounded that we’re right back at the status quo," he said. "If Congress continues down this kind of path, it will be more irrelevant than it has been in the past. The War Powers Act should be repealed and Congress should write a sensible constitutional provision undergirding the responsibilities of the Legislative Branch of government.”

Rep. David Rivera, the only Florida Republican to vote with Democrats authorizing the Libya effort: “Today I voted to send a clear message that I support our troops as they carry out this mission. Irrespective of where we stand in the debate on the overall Libya effort or the War Powers Act, I am not willing to support any action that may demoralize or debilitate our troops while they are in harm’s way. Nor am I willing to provide encouragement to a ruthless and murderous dictator. Unless broad consensus is reached on Libya between the House, Senate and President Obama, I do not believe we should risk harming our troops with unilateral policy statements that do nothing to change conditions for our military personnel engaged in Libya. I believe President Obama has handled the congressional consultation process poorly. However, now that our troops have been committed, there is only one option:  support our brave military and accomplish the mission."

[Last modified: Friday, June 24, 2011 4:55pm]


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