The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved a resolution on Tuesday authorizing U.S. military operations in Libya with limitations on President Obama’s authority, including a legally binding prohibition on the use of U.S. ground troops for any activities.
The resolution was approved 14-5, with all Democrats voting for it.
Notably, however, the panel rejected an effort to cut off funding for Predator drone strikes and other combat-related activities – essentially giving Obama what he needs to continue U.S. military support of the NATO-led mission to defeat the forces of strongman Muammar el-Qaddafi.
The Foreign Relations panel debated nearly a dozen amendments to the underlying resolution.
The proposal that would have cut off funding – which was the most controversial amendment considered by the committee -- failed by a 5-14 vote, with all Democrats on the panel voting against it. The measure would have restricted funding to allow only for activities involving intelligence, refueling, surveillance, search-and-rescue assistance, and planning support for NATO operations. The language was similar to that of a resolution that House lawmakers rejected last week.
But the panel approved by voice vote a legally binding amendment that prohibits funding to deploy U.S. troops on the ground in Libya, including for participation in stabilization and peacekeeping operations. The amendment also prohibits U.S. funding for contractors to conduct operations in Libya.
In a slap on the Obama administration, the panel also approved by voice vote an amendment that states that U.S. operations in Libya constitute hostilities under the 1973 War Powers Resolution and, therefore, require congressional authorization. The White House has argued that Libyan operations do not rise to level of hostilities under the War Powers Resolution.
The underlying resolution is expected to soon be voted on by the full Senate.