By John T. Bennett - 03/31/11 02:42 AM EDT
A pair of House Republicans on Wednesday moved to force the Obama administration to use funds from other federal accounts to pay for the Libyan military campaign.
Maryland GOP Reps. Roscoe Bartlett and Andy Harris introduced a bill that would require President Obama to give Congress a list of "rescissions of non-security discretionary appropriations for fiscal year 2011," according to a summary of the measure provided late Wednesday by Bartlett's office.
If approved, the bill would move the freed-up monies to the Defense Department "to replace the amounts spent in Libya in fiscal year 2011," according to the summary.
Prior to a classified briefing on Libya with senior Obama administration officials — including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen — Bartlett voiced concerns about the mission.
Asked by The Hill what he wanted to find out during the briefing, the House Armed Services Air and Land Forces subcommittee chairman replied bluntly: "Why we're there."
Bartlett has challenged the administration for opting not to seek congressional authorization to send the U.S. military in to combat embattled Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and his forces. He recently said the action was "an affront" to the U.S. Constitution.
Bartlett said the closed-door House and Senate briefings on Wednesday do not allow the administration to check a congressional notification box under the War Powers Act.
"You don't get to tell a judge, 'Yeah, I ran a red light, but I stopped at it 48 hours later,' " Bartlett said.
Multiple lawmakers told reporters following the House briefing that Clinton told members the administration, as one Democrat described it, "has legal opinions saying they could go forward without first going to Congress."
Some conservative Republicans have joined liberal Democrats in recent days in voicing their opposition to the Libyan campaign.