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Senate, House head for split over Libya plan

WASHINGTON — Key senators on Tuesday urged giving the White House authority for a one-year, limited Libya mission, but sentiment was growing in the House of Representatives to cut off the effort's funding.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry, D-Mass., who proposed the one-year measure, argued that not supporting efforts such as those of the Libyan rebels would "be ignorant, irresponsible and shortsighted and dangerous for our country."

He and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., President Barack Obama's 2008 Republican opponent, are pushing a measure that would authorize the use of U.S. armed forces "to advance national security interests in Libya as part of the international coalition" that's involved in that country.

And, the resolution says, "Congress does not support deploying, establishing or maintaining the presence of units and members of the United States Armed Forces on the ground in Libya unless the purpose of the presence is limited to the immediate personal defense of United States Government officials … or rescuing members of NATO forces from imminent danger."

But in the House, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., had a different view. "Our members are frustrated over the president's action, his lack of positing a clear vision and mission," he said.

Discussions were under way on possible House action, including denying funds for the operation as part of a defense spending bill that's expected to be considered beginning Thursday.

The White House said the United States had spent $716 million through June 3 on the Libya campaign, and it estimated that the mission will cost $1.1 billion by Sept. 30. The funds are expected to come from already appropriated money.

The White House argued last week that it didn't need Congress' authorization, since no U.S. lives were at risk. The 1973 War Powers Resolution requires the president to get congressional approval within 60 days after hostilities begin, extendable to 90 days if the president certifies military necessity in writing.

Helicopter goes down: NATO on Tuesday acknowledged that it had lost contact with one of its surveillance drone helicopters, as Libyan state television broadcast pictures of what it said was an alliance attack helicopter that had been shot down. NATO did not say whether it had crashed or had been shot down.

Senate, House head for split over Libya plan 06/21/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 21, 2011 10:42pm]

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