A powerful bipartisan group of senators led by Banking Committee Chairman Tim JohnsonTimothy (Tim) Peter JohnsonSenate GOP rejects Trump’s call to go big on gun legislation Court ruling could be game changer for Dems in Nevada Bank lobbyists counting down to Shelby’s exit MORE (D-S.D.) is proposing to give the Obama administration the authority to seize up to $10 billion worth of assets owned by the Libyan government, liquidate those assets and spend the money on humanitarian efforts in Libya.

Johnson said his bill, the Libyan Assets for Humanitarian Relief Act, is based on a proposal that the Obama administration proposed to Congress some weeks ago.

"A few weeks ago the president's senior advisers from the Treasury Department, the State Department and the White House came to Congress and provided draft legislation to explicitly authorize the president to seize and vest the Gadhafi government's assets to be used to benefit the Libyan people," Johnson said Monday. "This measure is an updated version of that legislation, imposing certain conditions on that authority and providing for certain reporting, tracking and auditing requirements on the use of the funds."

The issue of taking Libyan assets falls under the jurisdiction of Johnson's Banking Committee. His bill is co-sponsored by ranking member Richard Shelby (R-Ala.). The measure is also co-sponsored by Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John KerryJohn Forbes KerryBreitbart editor: Biden's son inked deal with Chinese government days after vice president’s trip State lawmakers pushing for carbon taxes aimed at the poor How America reached a 'What do you expect us to do' foreign policy MORE (D-Mass.), Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl LevinCarl Milton LevinSen. Gillibrand, eyeing 2020 bid, rankles some Democrats The Hill's 12:30 Report Congress needs bipartisanship to fully investigate Russian influence MORE (D-Mich.) and ranking member John McCainJohn Sidney McCainTrump informally offered Cohn CIA job before changing his mind: report Schiff: I thought more Republicans would speak out against Trump Trump presses GOP to change Senate rules MORE (R-Ariz.), Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Sen. Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Francis ReedOvernight Defense: Trump unveils new sanctions against Russia | Key Republicans back VA chief amid controversy | Trump gives boost to military 'space force' Top admiral: Don't be 'overly optimistic' about results of Trump-Kim summit Senate Dems concerned over lack of Mideast ambassadors as Syria war rages on MORE (D-R.I.), a senior member of the Armed Services and Banking committees.

The bill would allow the president to seize $8 billion in Libyan government assets that are thought to be located within the United States, plus another $2 billion if needed to "avert an imminent humanitarian emergency." Johnson estimates that $200 million of this is already in cash in the U.S. and "available for immediate seizure and use to support humanitarian efforts in Libya."

Once passed by Congress, the president would be able to seize $4 billion immediately, and the second $4 billion could be taken and used after a 30-day notification period. Congress would have the ability to deny that second seizure by passing a joint resolution of disapproval. The additional $2 billion could be seized after the president certifies that there is a humanitarian emergency in Libya.

Johnson defended the bill by saying it would essentially allow the U.S. to distribute Gadhafi's assets back to his own people.

"It would effectively give the true owners of these assets — the Libyan people — access to some of their own money to provide relief for Libya's citizens," he said.

He also said there is precedent for this seizure going back to World War I, and as recently as the last decade. "The latest example is when we seized and used a portion of Iraqi government assets in 2003 to provide urgent reconstruction assistance and other forms of support for the people of Iraq," he said.

Any assets seized would be managed by the State Department, and would be spent on non-government humanitarian relief organizations now working in Libya. The bill would establish accounting and congressional reporting requirements on how the money is spent.

Kerry and McCain are among the senators who have supported the Obama administration's decision to intervene in Libya, in contrast to many in the House who have sought to limit military involvement there.