Cole was followed by Reps. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) and Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), who urged members to support their amendment to prevent any funds in the bill from supporting the use of military force in Libya.
Amash rejected President Obama's argument that there are no hostile actions taking place in Libya, and that he therefore does not need to seek congressional approval for the operation. "It's embarrassing that the president tries to hide behind these flimsy arguments," Amash said.
Kucinich and others noted that the administration has not sought a specific appropriation for the Libya operation, and said this leads to the question of where the administration is getting the money. Kucinich said his amendment would ensure that the administration cannot pull it from the DOD spending bill.
More broadly, he argued that Congress needs to reassert itself as the branch of government that decided when the U.S. goes to war.
"This is our moment to reclaim the Constitution of the United States, which the founders envisioned that under Article 1 Section 8, we have the power to determine whether or not this nation goes to war, not some rebel group in Benghazi."
"Will we rise to the occasion?" he asked. "This isn't only about this Congress right now. History will judge us whether or not we understood the imperative of Article 1 Section 8."
Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) noted that the House has already agreed not to authorize action in Libya, and noted that defunding it in the spending bill would simply be a follow-up move. He also said Congress needs to act in order to reaffirm the Constitution.
"If this act is allowed to stand unchallenged, it means that the checks and balances painstakingly built into the Constitution on the supreme question of war and peace have been rendered meaningless," he said.
The House began voting on a series of amendments to the DOD spending bill at 1:30 p.m. The Amash-Kucinich amendment is the last amendment vote in that series.
Because these and other amendments are being considered as part of the 2012 DOD spending bill, they would only take effect when that bill takes effect. Thus, an amendment to cut off funding for Libya would only take hold on Oct. 1, when the new fiscal year starts.
Members are also considering amendments that would defund the war in Afghanistan and cut off aid to Pakistan. These amendments would also take effect at the start of the fiscal year.