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Libya vote scolds Obama

WASHINGTON — The House of Representatives sent President Barack Obama a strong bipartisan message Friday that it is frustrated and impatient with the U.S. military mission in Libya.

The House voted 295-123 to deny congressional consent for extending the 3-month-old effort for another year, a clear rebuke to Obama.

But the House would not take the extra step of denying funding for the mission. A bid led by Rep. Thomas Rooney of Florida to cut off money for all but search and rescue, intelligence, aerial refueling and non-combat operations got bipartisan support, but lost on a 238-180 vote.

The votes mean that U.S. involvement in the NATO-led effort to prevent Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi from crushing his people can continue. But the emotional, half-day debate illustrated the discontent that many lawmakers and their constituents feel about the mission.

White House press secretary Jay Carney voiced dismay.

"We are disappointed by that vote. We think now is not the time to send the kind of mixed message that it sends when we are working with our allies to achieve the goals that we believe that are widely shared in Congress. And the writing is on the wall for Col. Gadhafi, and now is not the time to let up."

Speaking to reporters, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said she would have preferred a different outcome on the authorization vote but was "gratified that the House decisively rejected" the bill to cut funds.

In Benghazi, Libya, rebel spokesman Jalal el-Gallal, said he didn't know why the House voted against the authorization measure.

"America is the beating heart of democracy and should support the birth of a democracy in our time," he said. "I believe the American people will put the pressure on the government to change its mind."

In the Senate, backers of a resolution to authorize the operation wondered whether the administration had waited too long to address the concerns of House members.

"It's way late," said Sen. John McCain, the top Republican on the Armed Services Committee. "This is one of the reasons why they're having this veritable uprising in the House, because of a lack of communication. And then the icing on the cake was probably for them when he (Obama) said that we're not engaged in hostilities. That obviously is foolishness."

He added, however, "That is not a reason to pass a resolution that would encourage Moammar Gadhafi to stay in power."

The breadth of the bipartisan coalition against the Libya mission was striking. Longtime liberal war critic Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, called the U.S. mission a "distraction," while Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, argued, "We have no business being in Libya."

Others railed about the cost — estimated by the White House at $716 million as of June 3.

Florida's congressional delegation reflected the divide over the U.S. military operation.

On the resolution authorizing limited military support for the NATO-led mission, all Democrats voted yes, along with Miami Republican Rep. David Rivera. All other Republicans voted against the authorization, which failed to pass. Republican Reps. Connie Mack and Allen West did not vote.

On the bill to cut off funding, which also failed, 10 of the 19 Republicans voted for it while all six Democrats voted no.

Tea party divided

Tea party Republicans overwhelmingly opposed the president's decision to participate in the NATO-led operation. But 27 of the caucus' 59 members voted against the GOP-led bill to strip federal dollars from part of the American effort.

The group's chairwoman, Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, was among those who voted no. The GOP presidential hopeful said she opposed the bill because it stopped short of halting all United States spending on the conflict.

"There was an opportunity today to limit funding to a Libyan operation, but I could not support it because it does not go far enough. Funds must be fully cut off to the president's involvement in Libya," she said in a statement.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service, the Associated Press and Times staff writer Alex Leary contributed to this report.

.FAST FACTS

Florida delegation divided

Florida's congressional delegation reflected the divide over the U.S. military operation in Libya. On the resolution authorizing limited military support for the NATO-led mission, all Democrats voted yes, along with Miami Republican Rep. David Rivera. All other Republicans voted against the authorization, which failed to pass. Republican Reps. Connie Mack and Allen West did not vote. On the bill to cut off funding, which also failed, 10 of the 19 Republicans voted for it while all six Democrats voted no. Votes of House members from the Tampa Bay area:

Supporting U.S. involvement in Libya

Yes: Kathy Castor, D-Tampa

No: Rich Nugent, R-Brooksville; Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor; C.W. Bill Young, R-Indian Shores; Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota; Dennis Ross, R-Lakeland

To limit use of funds

No: Castor, Nugent, Ross

Yes: Bilirakis; Buchanan; Young

. FAST FACTS

Hed goes here

Florida's congressional delegation reflected the divide over the U.S. military operation in Libya. On the resolution authorizing limited military support for the NATO-led mission, all Democrats voted yes, along with Miami Republican Rep. David Rivera. All other Republicans voted against the authorization, which failed to pass. Republican Reps. Connie Mack and Allen West did not vote. On the bill to cut off funding, which also failed, 10 of the 19 Republicans voted for it while all six Democrats voted no. Votes of House members from the Tampa Bay area:

Supporting U.S. involvement in Libya

Yes: Kathy Castor, D-Tampa

No: Rich Nugent, R-Brooksville; Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor; C.W. Bill Young, R-Indian Shores; Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota; Dennis Ross, R-Lakeland

To limit use of funds

No: Castor, Nugent, Ross

Yes: Bilirakis; Buchanan; Young

Libya vote scolds Obama 06/24/11 [Last modified: Friday, June 24, 2011 11:28pm]
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