During the Wednesday night debate, Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) said his amendment is needed because President Obama, "like some others, believes that he doesn't have to follow the law." Sherman and others believe Obama needs to get congressional approval for continued operations in Libya under the War Powers Act, and his amendment is meant to signal the growing frustration in Congress that this has not yet happened.
Opponents from both parties argued on Wednesday that the DHS bill was not the proper vehicle for a statement on Libya.
Still, Congress is clearly growing agitated about the situation in Libya, as evidenced by the close vote on the amendment. Last week, members overwhelmingly approved an amendment to the defense authorization act to prohibit ground troops in Libya, and approved an amendment to the same bill that explicitly says the defense authorization bill does not authorize further military action in Libya.
A resolution introduced Thursday by Rep. Michael Turner (R-Ohio) that says the House “does not approve United States intervention in Libya" has shown signs of strong support, garnering 63 co-sponsors. Turner will present his bill at a meeting of the GOP conference on Libya on Thursday afternoon.
In other Thursday amendment votes, the House approved language from Rep. Hansen Clarke (D-Mich.) that would eliminate a provision in the bill that limits Urban Area Security Initiative funds to the top 10 urban security risks. Members approved this amendment in a 273-150 vote, after several members on Wednesday night indicated support for using these funds more broadly.
In a 218-204 vote, the House approved an amendment from Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) that preserves the ability of private companies to compete for certain jobs now done by DHS employees.
Members approved an amendment from Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) that would strike language allowing DHS to transfer funds to the Secretary of the Interior for "environmental mitigation" related to border activities. Several Republicans on Wednesday night rejected the idea of transferring funds this way, arguing that money allocated to DHS should stay within DHS. The Lummis amendment was approved in a 238-177 vote.
Similarly, members approved an amendment from Rep. John Carter (R-Texas) that would prohibit any DHS money from being used for the Climate Change Adaption Task Force. That was approved in a 242-180 vote.
By a 264-157 margin, the House accepted an amendment from Rep. David Price (D-NC) that would allow the use of firefighter grant funds to hire firefighters. On Wednesday, members agreed to restore $320 million in grant funding to firefighters by taking money out of DHS management funding.
Finally, the House rejected language from Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) that would prohibit DHS from complying with the so-called Davis-Bacon act, which requires government construction projects to pay prevailing wage rates.
The House was set to consider more amendments in the mid-afternoon.