The House on Friday voted against authorizing continued U.S. military operations in Libya for one year. Proponents had urged passage of the measure, which would have allowed aid but prohibited the deployment of ground troops.
Only eight House Republicans supported the authorization, despite public support from Senate Armed Services ranking member John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., both considered respected voices on national security within their party.
The resolution failed on a 123-295 vote.
Speaking in opposition to the measure, House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon, R-Calif., said it is “not appropriate to cover [President Obama’s] lapses with a blanket authorization.”
White House officials have argued that the military effort in Libya, largely in support of NATO operations, does not amount to a war and does not require congressional authorization under the War Powers Act. But many lawmakers, including several who supported the operations when they began in March, argue that Obama is splitting hairs on the definition of war.
The House is now debating a second bill backed by the chamber's GOP leaders that would cut off funds for any U.S. combat missions as part of the NATO-led effort to oust Libyan strongman Muammar el-Qaddafi.
The bill, which is highly unlikely to pass the Senate, would still provide funding for support missions, such as combat search-and-rescue and aerial refueling. But it would block money for Predator drone strikes and other hostile actions.