White House warns on Libya funding measures

© AFP Gianluigi Guercia

AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The White House warned Monday that attempts in Congress to choke funding for all or part of US operations in Libya would send a “bad message” at a time when Moamer Kadhafi’s days were “numbered.”

President Barack Obama again finds itself on the defensive over the US role in the NATO mission this week, following a showdown with lawmakers last week over whether he usurped his power in ordering US action.

Congressional sources said that the House of Representatives could vote on measures which could curtail funding for US support operations over Libya, or a narrower bill squeezing some operations.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said such votes would not be helpful and could lessen the political pressure being brought to bear on Kadhafi’s regime.

“At a time when Colonel Kadhafi is under great pressure and our allies are bearing a considerable burden of the effort, it would send a bad message to both Kadhafi and to our friends around the world… on the funding issue… to have a vote like that.”

A Libyan girl holds the rebellion’s flag during an anti-Kadhafi demonstration on June 19 in Benghazi

With Obama under rising pressure from Republican critics of the focus and goals of the US mission in Libya — now largely restricted to supporting US allies — Carney argued that Kadhafi’s days were “numbered.”

“What we cannot say with precision is which day will be his final day in power. But we do believe his days are numbered.”

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Some lawmakers from both political parties are furious that Obama did not obtain congressional authorization for the US military action in Libya, and are seeking to hit back through their power of the purse.

The White House counters that the level of US action in Libya, which opened with an air blitz, but now is largely in support of British and French power, does not rise to the level of hostilities governed by the 1973 War Powers Act.

The legislation gives presidents 60 days to get authorization for a military deployment and, failing that, sets a further 30 days to withdraw them from harm’s way.

Anti-war Democrat Dennis Kucinich is expected to offer an amendment to a Defense spending bill which could cut off current and future funding for military action in Libya.

Perhaps more problematically for the White House, Republicans could offer a narrower bill that might defund specific operations — possibly including strikes by unmanned aerial drones.

Democratic congressman Brad Sherman told AFP Monday he may also offer an amendment which would stipulate that no money could be provided to actions deemed in contravention of the War Powers Act.

“We’re looking at a second amendment which would be a congressional declaration that in fact, American forces have been engaged in hostilities in Libya since March,” he said.

Sherman admitted that if it passed the House, his legislation would have a tougher time getting through the Senate.

But he added, “the idea that Congress would provide money intending that it be spent in violation of the law, strikes me as a violation of our oath of office.”

© AFP — Published at Activist Post with license

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