Congressman Brad Sherman offered an amendment to H.R. 2017, the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act in the House. The amendment prohibits funds provided by the bill from being used to conduct military operations which violate the War Powers Resolution (also known as the War Powers Act).
The vote on the amendment occurred today and nearly passed, with 111 Republicans and 97 Democrats voting in favor, and 123 Republicans and 90 Democrats voting against, and 12 members not voting.
The War Powers Resolution prevents the President from conducting military action for more than 60 days without Congressional approval. Congress has not authorized military action in Libya. The administration sent a perfunctory letter to the House leadership encouraging a resolution approving military action against Qaddafi's forces on May 20, 2011 -- about 60 days after hostilities began.
"We cannot bring democracy and the rule of law to Libya without safeguarding democracy and the rule of law in the United States," said Congressman Sherman. "The War Powers Resolution is the law of the land, and we should not facilitate or tolerate its violation, even for a purportedly worthy cause."
Sherman expressed optimism about the amendment passing in a future bill. The most significant argument against the amendment was its germaneness to the Homeland Security Appropriations bill, which provides only limited funding relevant for conducting a war. The amendment is more likely to pass when it is offered on the Defense Appropriations bill.
"It was important to have this vote this week," said Sherman. "The Defense Appropriations bill is weeks away -- we need to demonstrate that the President needs to seek authorization for the Libya operations now."