It was an unpopular conflict that lacked a clear objective. It was in a place without an obvious national security interest.
So the House of Representatives voted.
And the end result was a harsh rebuke of a White House which committed the United States to air strikes under the NATO umbrella without a Constitutional declaration of war or a vote authorizing the use of force overseas.
No, this wasn't Congress voting on Libya.
This was the House voting on whether the U.S. ought to be dropping bombs on Yugoslavia to curb the Serbs from pillaging Kosovo.
In April, 1999.
And in the end, the vote to back President Clinton's efforts to intervene in the Balkans failed, 213-213. By rule, tie votes lose in the House of Representatives.
So for the first time in 12 years, the House has another shot to rebuff a president for his unpopular deployment of U.S. military assets in an overseas NATO mission where Congress has yet to authorize American involvement.
That's where the House is ready to weigh in later this week on Libya.
On Tuesday night, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) announced two resolutions designed to harness the Obama Administration's Libya policy.
"If the Commander-in-Chief believes that intervention in Libya is important for our national security, he has a responsibility to make a case for it," Boehner said in a statement. "Congress has a responsibility to hold the White House accountable."
The holding "the White House accountable" part comes in two forms. First, Boehner will ask the House to approve the mission in Libya. This proposal mirrors a similar effort launched Tuesday in the Senate by Sens. John Kerry (D-MA) and John McCain (R-AZ).
Secondly, with a separate resolution, Boehner plans to extract U.S. forces from "hostilities in Libya" and limit their engagement to "non-hostile actions such as search and rescue, aerial refueling, operational planning, intelligence/surveillance/reconnaissance and non-combat missions."
There is significant discontent among Democrats and Republicans over what the U.S. is doing in Libya and how Mr. Obama may be out of bounds with the Constitution and the law. That's why a vote later this week on Libya could mirror the April, 1999 vote where the House declined to grant President Clinton its blessing on the Yugoslavia action.
"I think this is a bit political," said Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA) of Boehner's dual-resolution approach. "I would vote to authorize."
Another yes vote could come from Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) who flies spy planes for the Air National Guard.
"I support what we're doing in Libya," said Kinzinger. "I do however, wish the president would come to Congress. I think he's gotten off on the wrong foot."
Kinzinger says a lot of lawmakers are "between a rock and a hard place" over this. They don't want to leave American forces or NATO in the lurch. However, they don't understand the national interest in Libya and believe the president circumvented the Constitution when he failed to consult Congress.
"I think (President Obama) hasn't sold it because people are saying no," Kinzinger added.
Dicks and Kinzinger may vote in favor of the Libya operation. But a senior House Republican aide doubted the resolution would pass.
The House nearly voted to end U.S. involvement in the NATO operation four weeks ago.
In May, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) authored a simple resolution, that if passed, would have required the U.S. to withdraw from the Libya mission.
And Kucinich's plan created a problem for Boehner.
Chances were that the House would have okayed Kucinich's plan, handcuffing the president and potentially undercutting NATO. Boehner realized this. So he quickly drafted a separate resolution to compete with Kucinich's.
Boehner's additional resolution demanded answers from the White House about the U.S. interests in Libya and how the administration believed it was able to bypass Congress in this instance.
By introducing a competing resolution, Boehner bought time. The speaker's gambit paid off as Boehner successfully siphoned votes away from Kucinich. Otherwise, the House may have voted to end President Obama's Libya mission then and there.
So now, Boehner still has questions about what the U.S. is doing in Libya. And even though the resolution is Boehner's, it essentially has a similar effect as the one drawn-up a few weeks ago by Kucinich.
"We're going to have a straight up or down vote on Libya," said Kucinich, who spent his time Tuesday night handing out yellow fliers to colleagues on the House floor. A series of bullet points on the fliers explained how the Ohio Democrat believed the Libyan operation violated the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution. "We have seen a great Constitutional debate emerge. The Founders would be proud of a Congress seizing an initiative of a debate."
At this point, there's no plan for the House to consider Kucinich's resolution nor an alternative plan written by Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV). Heck's proposal would nip funding for the Libya mission within a month.
"We cannot afford the troops or taxpayer dollars-especially without a national security objective," said Heck in a statement.
Even though the House won't consider Kucinich's plan or Heck's idea, it's significant that it's poised to vote twice on Libya. Such bifurcated approaches are the de rigueur these days as Congress wrestles with how to handle American involvement or funding for unpopular conflicts abroad.
For instance when she served as House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) engineered complex votes on Iraq and Afghanistan. One vote was to fund military operations in both theatres. But Pelosi simultaneously executed a second vote against those wars. That gave liberal Democrats a chance to oppose those conflicts.
The House never voted to withdraw from Iraq or Afghanistan. And both chambers of Congress always found the money to fund these wars.
And therein lies the rub with these Libya votes.On Thursday, the House is scheduled to debate a measure to fund the military for Fiscal Year '12, which starts in October. A horde of lawmakers are expected to introduce amendments to either curb the Libya mission or restrict money.
After all, the power of the purse is the ultimate weapon in Congress.
Norm Dicks, who is the top Democrat on the subcommittee charged with funding the military, says Boehner's decision to give the House separate votes on Libya could short-circuit efforts to strip the funding in the defense spending package.
"We don't want this on the appropriations bill," said Dicks. "We just want to get our bill passed."
At no point do either of Boehner's resolutions chop off funding for the Libya operation.
In 1999, at no point did Congress cleave money to the Yugoslavia operation.
But in 1993, Congress refused to pay for U.S. involvement in Somalia after rebels killed 18 American service members after shooting down a chopper in the fabled "Black Hawk Down" incident.
In 1973, Congress voted to defund the Vietnam war after the loss of more than 58,000 lives.
But it took Congress years to get to that point.
So the House may ultimately vote this week against continuing the Libya mission. But that's a far cry from ending it. Especially when lawmakers have yet to specifically tighten the purse strings. Members of Congress may vote against the administration's decision to involve the U.S. But lawmakers are loathe to clip money when troops are still involved.
Ending the money is a more dire action. Like when the U.S. lost 58,000 service members. Or even 18, as was the case in Somalia in 1993.
And so far in Libya, the U.S. has yet to lose a single life.