Speaker Boehner says House might not OK the mission in Libya

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) suggested on Wednesday that the House might not support a measure he introduced that would formally authorize the U.S. military mission in Libya.

Boehner is giving House lawmakers a pair of choices on Libya: a measure authorizing the mission for one year or an alternative proposal that would mandate an end to the combat operation.

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The authorizing legislation mirrors a proposal offered in the Senate by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.), who have warned against a U.S. withdrawal from the NATO-led mission. Boehner has sharply criticized President Obama for not providing compelling rationale for the operation.

“If you listen to what Senator McCain has said and Senator [Lindsey] Graham [R-S.C.], two friends of mine, and you listen to what I and others have said, we’ve said almost the same exact thing, except that they’re pushing for an authorization in Libya and I don’t think that’s where the House is,” Boehner told reporters Wednesday.

“The fact is the president has not made his case to the members of Congress, he has not made his case to the American people. We’ve been in this conflict for 90 days and the president hasn’t talked to the American people for four or five weeks about why we’re there, what our national interest is and why we should continue.”

A vote on the measures could come as early as Thursday. Neither Boehner nor his spokesman said which one, if either, he supported.

The Speaker outlined a much different position on Afghanistan, where he acknowledged a weariness on the part of the American people but said he was concerned about a precipitous withdrawal.

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“We’re getting there, but we’ve got an awful lot invested there and I’m concerned about a precipitous withdrawal of our troops that would jeopardize the success that we’ve made,” Boehner said.

Obama will address the nation Wednesday night on his plan for drawing down U.S. forces. “If the president listens to the commanders on the ground and the diplomats in the region, and makes a decision I’ll be there to support him,” Boehner said. “Success in Afghanistan is critically important.”

Support for the war in Congress has decreased in recent months. “Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle reflect the opinions and attitudes of their constituents,” Boehner said. “The American people are a bit weary about Afghanistan, and you can’t blame them.”

The Speaker was also asked what he and the president discussed during their golf outing on Saturday. “Golf,” Boehner said. “That was it. Golf.”