House ignores Obama's Libya request

House leaders are ignoring a request from President Obama for a congressional endorsement of the U.S. military mission in Libya.

Five days after Obama sent a letter to congressional leaders seeking a resolution of support, there has been no action in the House, and aides in both parties say there are no plans to bring legislation to the floor.

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The response in the lower chamber marks a striking contrast with the Senate, where a bipartisan group of foreign policy heavyweights have signed on to a resolution backing the Libya campaign. 

Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidTrump thanks Reid for warning Democrats not to underestimate him Reid warns Democrats not to underestimate Trump Harry Reid predicts Trump, unlike Clinton, won't become more popular because of impeachment MORE (D-Nev.) has said he expects a vote next month on the measure, which is sponsored by Sens. John KerryJohn Forbes KerryDemocrats have reason to worry after the last presidential debate Overnight Energy: Farmers say EPA reneged on ethanol deal | EPA scrubs senators' quotes from controversial ethanol announcement | Perry unsure if he'll comply with subpoena | John Kerry criticizes lack of climate talk at debate John Kerry calls out lack of climate questions at debate MORE (D-Mass.), John McCainJohn Sidney McCainLawmakers toast Greta Van Susteren's new show Meghan McCain: It's 'breaking my heart' Warren is leading Biden in the polls The Hill's 12:30 Report: Video depicting Trump killing media, critics draws backlash MORE (R-Ariz.), Carl LevinCarl Milton LevinRemembering leaders who put country above party Strange bedfellows oppose the filibuster Listen, learn and lead: Congressional newcomers should leave the extremist tactics at home MORE (D-Mich.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamCheney unveils Turkey sanctions legislation Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — House passes resolution rebuking Trump over Syria | Sparks fly at White House meeting on Syria | Dems say Trump called Pelosi a 'third-rate politician' | Trump, Graham trade jabs War of words at the White House MORE (R-S.C.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Saxby ChamblissClarence (Saxby) Saxby ChamblissThe Hill's Morning Report - Gillibrand drops out as number of debaters shrinks Hoekstra emerges as favorite for top intelligence post Republicans say Democrats holding up disaster relief as 'Sandy payback' MORE (R-Ga.).

A companion measure has not been introduced in the House, and in the two months since Obama launched the operation, only one of the chamber’s 435 members, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), has signed onto a resolution supporting the mission. A spokeswoman for Rohrabacher said Wednesday that his measure was in “a holding pattern.”

House Majority Leader Eric CantorEric Ivan CantorMeet Trump's most trusted pollsters Embattled Juul seeks allies in Washington GOP faces tough battle to become 'party of health care' MORE (R-Va.) said earlier this week that the Libya mission would be debated through amendments to the defense authorization bill currently on the floor, but the only amendments on Libya that lawmakers offered sought to criticize or to restrict the mission. With minimal debate, the House on a voice vote Wednesday adopted an amendment from conservative Rep. Scott GarrettErnest (Scott) Scott GarrettBiz groups take victory lap on Ex-Im Bank Export-Import Bank back to full strength after Senate confirmations Manufacturers support Reed to helm Ex-Im Bank MORE (R-N.J.) that stated explicitly that “nothing in the [Defense] bill... shall be construed to authorize military operations in Libya.”

The top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithTop Democrats warn against withdrawing from treaty that allows observation flights over Russia This year, let's cancel the Nobel Prize in economics Pentagon space agency to request .6 billion over five years: report MORE (Wash.), said the White House has not asked him to sponsor a resolution and that it was up to the Republicans, who hold the majority, to take the lead.

“At this point, the majority has not indicated that they have a plan to bring anything up,” Smith said in an interview. “I think we should. I would be supportive of the Senate resolution. I think it’s important that we do that.

“Part of the reason that we haven’t introduced anything is that with something like this, we would like to have bipartisan support,” Smith said. “We would like something that would move through the process, and in that sense, the majority does control whether that happens.”

A White House spokesman, Tommy Vietor, had no comment, but he reiterated that the president “supports congressional action.”

In his letter last Friday, Obama said “congressional action in support of the mission would underline the U.S. commitment to this remarkable international effort.”

When Obama sent the letter, Michael Steel, a spokesman for Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerIs Congress retrievable? Boehner reveals portrait done by George W. Bush Meadows to be replaced by Biggs as Freedom Caucus leader MORE (R-Ohio), said Republican leaders had not seen a draft of the resolution and would discuss it with their members. The actual Senate resolution was not introduced until late Monday.

Two senior Democratic aides said the GOP was unlikely to touch the issue.

“It has been communicated to us that the Republican leadership has no interest in having this come to the floor,” one aide said.

BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerIs Congress retrievable? Boehner reveals portrait done by George W. Bush Meadows to be replaced by Biggs as Freedom Caucus leader MORE’s office declined to respond.

House tensions with the administration over Libya stem from the outset of the mission, when Boehner, along with both Republican and Democratic lawmakers, criticized the White House for insufficient consultation with Congress. Members in both parties accused the administration of acting outside of its war-powers authority, and those criticisms have grown louder in the last week with the passage of the 60-day mark on the mission. Under the War Powers Act of 1973, armed forces must be withdrawn after 60 days without authorization or a declaration of war from Congress.

With Moammar Gadhafi still in power and fears of a prolonged stalemate growing, there appears to be little appetite among House members for a full-throated endorsement of U.S. military involvement.

One Republican who initially was a strong backer of Obama’s intervention, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), said he would not vote for a resolution supporting the mission now because the 60 days of authority had expired.

Obama did not cite the War Powers Act or ask for explicit authorization in his letter. The president wrote that the resolution he wanted “would demonstrate a unity of purpose among the political branches on this important national security matter.”

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“It has always been my view,” Obama wrote, “that it is better to take military action, even in limited actions such as this, with congressional engagement, consultation and support.”

The president noted the operation had become “more limited” as NATO has assumed command, but he did not say how long U.S. involvement would last.

The Senate resolution says the chamber “supports the limited use of military force by the United States in Libya as part of the NATO mission to enforce United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 (2011), as requested by the Transitional National Council, the Arab League and the Gulf Cooperation Council.”

The resolution says the Senate agrees that “the goal of United States policy in Libya, as stated by the president, is to achieve the departure from power of Moammar Gadhafi and his family, including through the use of non-military means, so that a peaceful transition can begin to an inclusive government that ensures freedom, opportunity and justice for the people of Libya.”