White House: Libya defunding vote would 'send a bad message'

A vote to defund the military mission in Libya would send a "bad message" to NATO allies and dictator Moammar Gadhafi, the White House said Monday. 

"I would just say that at a time when Col. Gadhafi is under great pressure and our allies are bearing a considerable burden of the effort, it would send a bad message to both Gadhafi and to our friends around the world to — on the funding issue — to have a vote like that," White House press secretary Jay Carney said Monday.

Carney's comments come as lawmakers in the House are considering legislation to define the mission in Libya. Some lawmakers have called for funding for the mission to be cut off.

President Obama and Congress have been at odds for weeks over Obama's reading of the War Powers Resolution. The president and his lawyers say that the U.S.'s limited support role in Libya does not meet the resolution's definition of "hostilities," meaning Obama does not need congressional authorization to continue the mission.

"The core role of this mission is to protect civilians, a mission that Congress supports," Carney said. "And we should continue to provide that support."

But Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have furiously rejected that argument, calling on Obama to seek congressional authority and threatening to limit or defund the mission in Libya with a vote in the House this week.

Over the weekend, Republicans seized on a report in The New York Times that Obama had ignored the legal analysis of top lawyers at the Pentagon and the Justice Department. The story reported that at least two lawyers there disagreed with the administration, arguing that the U.S. has in fact engaged in "hostilities" in Libya.

"It was the president's judgment and his decision to make that the hostilities threshold was not — is not being met currently through the participation that we have in this mission," Carney said.