By Russell Berman - 06/02/11 04:10 PM EDT
A House Republican is gathering fast support for a resolution expressing disapproval of the U.S. military intervention in Libya, raising the possibility of a rare congressional rebuke of President Obama on foreign policy.
Rep. Michael Turner (R-Ohio) introduced a one-page bill Thursday that says the House “does not approve United States intervention in Libya.” Turner, a member of the Armed Services Committee, has already garnered 63 co-sponsors, he told The Hill, making the legislation a possible alternative to a measure offered by anti-war Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) that would mandate an immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces.
With concerns about Libya mounting, the Pentagon warned against passage of the Kucinich bill.
"Secretary Gates believes that for the United States, once committed to a NATO operation, to unilaterally abandon that mission would have enormous and dangerous long-term consequences," spokesman Geoff Morrell said in a statement. He did not address Turner's legislation.
Turner said in an interview that his legislation was meant as a “direct response” to President Obama’s May 20 letter to congressional leaders asking for support for the NATO-led Libya mission, which began in March. He said he had concerns about the hard deadline for troop withdrawal included in Kucinich’s bill.
“This resolution answers the president,” Turner said. After extensive hearings on Libya, he said, “we certainly have enough information to know that the president has failed to make the case.”
While Turner’s bill is not strictly binding, its passage would send a loud message to the White House and could have repercussions in international support for the NATO mission.
The five-term congressman said the GOP leadership was aware of his bill but that there had been no discussions about whether they would support it.
Asked about the viability of Turner's bill, Michael Steel, spokesman for Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), said, "We'll have a better idea after we hear from the members this afternoon."
Another Republican, Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.), has introduced a resolution declaring Obama to be in violation of the War Powers Resolution for not getting congressional approval of the mission within 60 days. His measure has 13 co-sponsors, while Kucinich's has four. Boehner on Wednesday said Obama was "technically" not in violation of the War Powers Resolution.
Boehner told reporters Wednesday that the GOP pulled the Kucinich bill because the House was not ready to proceed with it.
“There are a lot of questions that remain, and frankly I think that members on both sides of the aisle are looking for answers about this and they are looking for some clarity,” Boehner said.
The Speaker said Thursday he expected the issue to be resolved by Friday. Kucinich has been able to force the issue because he introduced his bill under authority granted by the 1973 War Powers Resolution, which provides for expedited consideration of military withdrawal measures. He could demand a vote within two weeks.
The Washington Post first reported Turner’s bill on Thursday.