McCain Says Republicans Could Regret Vote to Defund Libya Operation; Introduces Authorization Resolution

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., warned in a Senate floor speech Tuesday aimed at House Republicans that they could come to regret a vote to cut funding for the military operation in Libya. McCain made the comments while introducing a bill to authorize limited military force in the North African nation.

"Someday, a Republican will again occupy the White House, and that president may need to commit U.S. armed forces to hostilities," McCain said.  "So if my Republican colleagues are indifferent to how their actions would affect this president, I would urge them to think seriously about how a vote to cut off funding for this military operation could come back to haunt a future president when the shoe is on the other foot."

Democratic Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, who co-sponsored the authorization bill, echoed McCain's sentiment, saying a vote to pull the mission's money would be "a moment of infamy."

Kerry added that the authorization is not a blank check and that it it doesn't support the use of ground troops.  It calls for limited use of U.S. troops to support the NATO operation.

Cosponsors of the resolution include, Sens. Carl Levin, D-Mich., Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., Dick Durbin D-Ill., Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and Ben Cardin, D-Md.

The unlikely bipartisan alliance seemed even more ironic as McCain compared Republicans rallying against the Libya operation to Democrats who rallied against the Iraq war. Kerry was an ardent opponent of the Iraq invasion.

"Many of us remember well the way that some of our friends on the other side of the aisle savaged President Bush over the Iraq war - how they sought to do everything in their power to tie his hands and pull America out of that conflict," McCain said. "We were right to condemn this behavior then, and we would be wrong to practice it now ourselves, simply because a leader of the opposite party occupies the White House."

The Obama administration holds that NATO's lead role in the engagement means U.S. involvement falls within the parameters of the War Powers Act and thus, doesn't need congressional approval. But while McCain agrees with administration claims that the U.S. needs to be involved in Libya, he believes the president needs congressional approval.

"Now, I know the administration has made it clear that it believes it does not need a Congressional authorization such as this, because it is their view that U.S. military operations in Libya do not rise to the level of hostilities," McCain said. "I believe this assertion will strike most of my colleagues, and the Americans they represent, as a confusing breach of common sense."

And he says that poor communication has led the House to prepare its vote to pull the mission's funding.

"The administration's disregard for the elected representatives of the American people on this matter has been troubling and counterproductive," he said. "And the unfortunate result of this failure of leadership is plain to see in the full-scale revolt against the Administration's Libya policy that has occurred in the House of Representatives."