Howard Berman [D-CA] rose in opposition to H. Res. 292. He said:
There are two choices here. If the majority thinks that the President's initial efforts to stop a humanitarian catastrophe were wrong or that current operations in Libya do not have a compelling national security rationale, it should support Mr. Kucinich's approach and offer a concurrent resolution pursuant to section 5(c) of the War Powers Resolution requiring the removal of U.S. forces.Lillis reports support for Obama from Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. "Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) defended the White House on Thursday, arguing that both the Boehner and Kucinich proposals “do not advance our efforts in the region and send the wrong message to our NATO partners."
If the majority has concerns with Mr. Kucinich's approach, as many of us do, and believes terminating military action would have grave consequences for U.S. national security, it should simply authorize the use of force in Libya, incorporating the restrictions on ground forces that this resolution has, that the Conyers language in the DOD bill had. I would gladly join the Speaker in cosponsoring such an authorization of the limited use of force.
But pursuing a nonbinding House Resolution that takes potshots at the President and amounts to nothing more than a sense of the Congress is just an exercise in political gamesmanship. It is a pedantic effort to embarrass the President without taking any ownership for the policy of the intervention.
The majority, not the President, puts this body in a position of powerlessness through such toothless efforts. We are 60 days into this operation. Either we should authorize this action or terminate, not play around with reporting requirements.
The resolution is also confusing. It states that the President shall not deploy or maintain the presence of U.S. military units on the ground in Libya.
But as the majority well knows, U.S. military activities are limited to air operations and nothing more. So does this language mean the majority is okay with the current intervention in Libya? The majority seems to be raising a fuss while winking at the White House. That's not the way to legislate.
Finally, I object to the resolution because it is downright inaccurate. The resolution implies that there is no compelling national security rationale for operations in Libya. But U.S. interests are clear. They have been forcefully articulated by the administration and, ironically, by conservative advocates like Bill Kristol.
We are in Libya because we are averting a probable massacre against civilians. We are in Libya because our NATO partners need our help. Refusal to act there would send a message to NATO allies, who are putting their forces on the line in Afghanistan, that we are not a dependable partner. We are in Libya because our friends struggling for democracy in the Middle East are watching events there. If we failed to act, or worse, seek withdrawal today, what will we be saying to the activists in Tunisia and Egypt, whose fragile movements for democracy could be stifled by the destabilizing effect of a Qadhafi-led government remaining in power? And what message would we be sending to Assad and to other dictators and enemies about our staying power?
Let's not kid ourselves. A Qadhafi who is unleashed to commit acts of terrorism around the world will do so with unspeakable barbarity. We know Qadhafi's record of bloodshed, and we know his readiness to use terror, especially now that he has nothing to lose. I cannot think of a more compelling rationale for current operations in Libya.
I object to the characterization that U.S. national security interests and humanitarian objectives are incompatible. In Libya, it is quite clear that stopping murder and preventing a refugee crisis very much correspond with U.S. national interests.
Resolved, That the Senate--