U.S. military action in Libya does not violate the War Powers Act, and it would be a mistake for Congress to cut off the operation's funding, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Sunday.

"I was in the White House and the NSC staff not long after the War Powers Act was passed," Gates said on "Fox News Sunday." "And I believe that President Obama has complied with the law, consistent in a manner with virtually all of his predecessors. I don't think he's breaking any new ground here."

Ninety days after beginning strikes against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's forces, members of Congress are threatening to end the action by choking off funds.

"We've been through this on a number of occasions, even since I've secretary, where Congress has threatened to cut off funding in Iraq and on several occasions and so on," he said. "Frankly, I think cutting off funding in the middle of a military operation when we have people engaged is always a mistake."

Gates also defended President Obama's strategic decisions on Libya. "Leading from behind" is what the U.S. should be doing, he said. 

"I think it's absolutely the right strategy," Gates said. 

"The arrangement and the understanding the president had with our key allies from the very beginning was the U.S. would come in heavy at beginning, establish a no-fly zone and then hand off the operation to our allies and that we would recede into a support role. That was his decision going in and he stuck to it."