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The House's 'surprising split decision' on Libya
First, Congress declines to back the president's war in Libya. Then, an hour later, they stopped short of defunding the mission. Huh?
 
President Obama speaks at a fundraiser in Miami: On Friday, the House offered him a "rare rebuke" by declining to officially authorize the war in Libya.
President Obama speaks at a fundraiser in Miami: On Friday, the House offered him a "rare rebuke" by declining to officially authorize the war in Libya.
Joe Raedle/ Getty Images

On Friday, the House delivered a "surprising split decision" on Libya. First, 70 Democrats joined the GOP to vote against officially authorizing the war in Libya, in what's being called a "scathing rebuke" to the president. An hour later, a House majority delivered a seemingly contradictory vote, when they failed to pass a bill aimed at cutting off most U.S. funding of the NATO mission. Dozens of Republicans, and the vast majority of Democrats, voted against defunding the war. What does this mean for the president, Congress, and the war in Libya? (Watch an NBC report about the vote.)

This is humiliating for Obama: "It is an embarrassment for the president to have a vote go against him in time of conflict, and reflects the disenchantment in the U.S. over yet another war," say Ewen MacAskill and Nick Hopkins at The Guardian. Sure, the House's decision to not officially authorize the mission in Libya is primarily a "symbolic vote," but it's also a "rare rebuke" to Obama. Plus, it could have the dangerous effect of giving Moammar Gadhafi the "impression that support for the war is collapsing."
"Barack Obama rebuked for Libya action by U.S. House of Representatives"

Partisan politics wins again: The split decision on the two votes shows that the House can't stake out a firm, clear position on Libya, say Jonathan Allen and Seung Min Kim at Politico. They won't endorse the war, nor can they totally reject it. In the end, party politics prevailed, or at least muddied the issue. For instance, some Democrats who are ideologically opposed to the Libya mission didn't vote against it, instead caving to political considerations, for fear of undermining their president.
"Pair of votes shows House divided on Libya"

Congress should be ashamed of itself: This is a galling example of "Congressional cowardice," says Doug Mataconis at Outside the Beltway. The House had the opportunity to deliver "a strong, serious rebuke to the President on a military adventure that the public does not support." Obama arrogantly went into Libya without Congressional support, and now, they're basically letting him do whatever he pleases. "Congress had a great opportunity to strike a blow against the Imperial Presidency today, and they failed miserably."
"House refuses to authorize Libyan War, then refuses to defund Libyan War"

 

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