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Obama asks Congress for a resolution of support on Libya
Sixty days after launching military action against Libya, President Obama on Friday sent a letter to Congressional leaders asking them to pass a resolution supporting the U.S. mission.
"I wish to express my support for the bipartisan resolution drafted by Senators Kerry, McCain, Levin, Feinstein, Graham, and Lieberman, which would confirm that the Congress supports the U.S. mission in Libya and that both branches are united in their commitment to supporting the aspirations of the Libyan people for political reform and self-government," Obama wrote.
The 1973 War Powers Act (WPA) - the statute President Obama invoked when he launched forces in March - requires presidents to secure congressional approval for military operations within 60 days, or withdraw forces within the next 30.
"Congressional action in support of the mission would underline the U.S. commitment to this remarkable international effort," Obama wrote. "Such a Resolution is also important in the context of our constitutional framework, as it would demonstrate a unity of purpose among the political branches on this important national security matter."
In his letter, Obama wrote that the U.S. military is playing a support role now, but its participation is necessary to the success of the NATO-led operation.
"While we are no longer in the lead, U.S. support for the NATO-based coalition remains crucial to assuring the success of international efforts to protect civilians from the actions of the Qaddafi regime," the president wrote.
A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said the House GOP had not made a decision yet on the president's request.
"We received the President's letter but have yet to see the draft resolution it mentions. No decisions will be made until such a review takes place and we discuss the matter with our members," Michael Steel said.
Congress has not authorized the mission - which includes a no-fly zone, bombing raids, a sea blockade and civilian-protection operations.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee will hear testimony next week from House members on whether Congress needs to provide explicit authorization for continued military operations in Libya.
On Thursday, six Senate Republicans wrote to Obama asking him if he intends to comply with the WPA.
"Friday is the final day of the statutory sixty-day period for you to terminate the use of the United States Armed Forces in Libya under the War Powers Resolution," reads the letter, spearheaded by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). "As recently as last week your administration indicated use of the United States Armed Forces will continue indefinitely."
--Russell Berman, Mike Lillis and Pete Kasperowicz contributed to this post.