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House defeats measure cutting funding for Libya operations

By Alan Silverleib, CNN
  • The House defeats a measure barring Pentagon funds for U.S. military intervention in Libya
  • The House narrowly passed an amendment barring Pentagon funds for Libyan rebels
  • The amendment's prospects for final congressional approval are unclear at best
  • Congress has been unable to pass a measure supporting or opposing the U.S. role in Libya

Washington (CNN) -- The Republican-controlled House of Representatives narrowly defeated a measure Thursday that would have barred any fiscal year 2012 Pentagon funds from being used to provide U.S. support for the NATO-led military campaign in Libya.

The bipartisan amendment, sponsored by Reps. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, and Justin Amash, R-Michigan, lost in a 199-229 vote. A relatively slim majority of Republicans voted in favor of the measure, while a larger majority of Democrats opposed it.

Separately, House members voted 225-201 to adopt an amendment sponsored by Rep. Tom Cole, R-Oklahoma, barring Pentagon funds from being used to train or supply the Libyan rebels.

The Cole amendment was part of a larger Defense Department funding bill, however. The amendment's prospects for final congressional approval -- particularly in the Democratic-controlled Senate -- remain unclear.

Congress has so far been unable to pass any legislation explicitly endorsing or rejecting American military intervention in the war-torn North African country. Last month, the House rejected an administration-backed measure expressing support for the war while also voting down a bill restricting American involvement in the conflict.

On June 28, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed a joint resolution supporting the limited use of U.S. military force in Libya for one year. That measure, however, has not yet been taken up by the full Senate.

Deep congressional divisions over the mission stem in part from a belief among some representatives and senators on both sides of the aisle that the White House has violated the War Powers Resolution.

Passed in 1973, the law gives a president 60 days to get congressional approval for sending U.S. forces to war, followed by a 30-day extension to end hostilities.

The combined 90-day period ended in June without any congressional expression of support for America's role in the NATO-led operation.

Administration officials have repeatedly asserted, among other points, that the U.S. role in Libya does not meet the law's definition of hostilities.

The allied military effort in Libya, which has formal United Nations support, was launched to protect civilians from violence stemming from a crackdown launched by longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi. Western leaders have made clear that they believe the mission cannot be successfully completed without Gadhafi's ouster.

The White House has promised not to use U.S. ground troops, but bipartisan congressional opposition to the military campaign has nevertheless been persistent.