Congress looking for Obama to clarify Libya mission in Thursday speech

While that 60-day period is now just days away from expiring, it is still unclear what the Obama administration has planned and whether Congress will soon need to debate a proposal to continue military involvement in Libya. An Obama announcement that more work needs to be done in Libya could lead to floor consideration of a bill authorizing that work in the coming weeks.

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Last week, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) released a series of questions to the Obama administration about next steps in Libya and noted that there is still no clarity.

"We are nearing the end of the second month of U.S. military involvement, including a bombing campaign, in Libya’s civil war," Lugar said. "Congress has yet to have an appropriate debate or vote on the President's objectives, or the risks, and costs associated with these operations, and their relationship to U.S. interests. Nor has the Administration consulted adequately with Congress on these matters to date."

Lugar noted that Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg said in a Senate hearing that the administration is reviewing the U.S. role in Libya, and that Obama will continue to consult with Congress.

A Senate aide told The Hill that Obama's Thursday remarks on Middle East and North Africa policy are expected to serve as a significant guide to Obama's thinking on Libya. He also noted that General James Cartwright, the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, would hold a classified briefing with members of Congress on Libya the same day.

The aide added that Lugar would have to see whether the briefing and the speech answer his many questions about Libya. "This is a serious political question and a serious security question," he said.

Among other things, Lugar asked about the extent of current military operations, what role the military would play after the War Powers Resolution deadline passes, what costs are involved, and under what circumstances the U.S. might have to escalate its involvement further in Libya.

On the House side, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) has already pledged to introduce a bill aimed at forcing a House vote on Libya. In a statement last week, Kucinich indicated that he wants the House to vote to end military action in Libya and said this is possible once the 60-day period ends.

"We must not let any war continue absent legal authorization by Congress," he said last week.

Kucinich on Monday intends to introduce a privileged resolution that would be referred to the House Foreign Affairs Committee and could be considered on the House floor within 15 legislative days.