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GOP seizes on Kucinich idea as a way to condemn Obama on Libya

A measure sponsored by Democrat Dennis Kucinich may give Republican lawmakers a way to express their growing dissatisfaction with Obama's military actions in Libya – but without criticizing the actions of US forces.

By Staff writer / June 2, 2011

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D) of Ohio speaks on Capitol Hill, May 26.

Yuri Gripas / Reuters / File

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Washington

An unusual coalition of House conservatives and liberals could vote as early as Friday to force President Obama’s hand on the US military intervention in Libya.

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A resolution by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D) of Ohio, to require the president to withdraw US forces from the Libya military campaign within 15 days, got scant attention – until a significant number of Republican representatives surprised their House leadership by indicating that they would vote for the measure.

The resolution was abruptly pulled from the House calendar Wednesday – an indication of the deep Republican divide over the prospect of voting against a US military operation.

The House Republican leadership is now scrambling for a way to formally express legislators' growing dissatisfaction with the military operation Obama ordered in early March – but without it sounding like a criticism in any way of the military.

The House could still take up Representative Kucinich’s resolution on Friday, either to vote on it or to schedule a vote for a a later date. In the meantime, some Republicans are considering an alternative measure that would rebuke the president for going to war without congressional approval.

The War Powers Act

At the heart of the debate is the War Powers Resolution, a 1973 act that orders the president to seek congressional approval for a military intervention that lasts more than 60 days. Thursday is the 75th day of US participation in what started as a US-led operation but which is now directed by NATO. The US has taken a backseat, supportive role in a bombing campaign led by Great Britain and France and increasingly appearing to have as its goal the removal from power of Col. Muammar Qaddafi.

The anti-war Kucinich is no favorite of congressional Republicans, but he suddenly finds a number of them willing to hold their nose and support his resolution based on their concerns that Obama is disregarding Congress – and US law – with the Libya war.

In April a libertarian constitutional lawyer, Bruce Fein, went so far as to draft an article of impeachment against Obama over the Libya intervention. Mr. Fein, a former deputy attorney general under President Reagan, on Thursday criticized the House Republican leadership’s decision to put off a vote on Kucinich’s resolution as “part of the empire mentality that is out to frustrate popular sentiment and the proper working of Constitutional government.”

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