House scraps vote on Libya resolution

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The House of Representatives on Wednesday called off a vote on a proposal directing President Barack Obama to remove U.S. armed forces from Libya, with majority Republicans saying they wanted more time to weigh their options on the war.

Democrat Dennis Kucinich, the resolution’s disappointed sponsor, suggested the vote was dropped because the measure might have passed, which would have confirmed that most of the lawmakers want the United States out of the Libyan conflict.

“Some are now wondering if a preliminary vote count on my resolution came out in favor,” Kucinich said in a statement.

NATO is leading the intervention in Libya with a U.S. contribution but there are no U.S. troops on the ground there.

The U.S. role in Libya, where rebels are trying to oust long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi, has been controversial in Congress since Obama notified lawmakers on March 21 that he had ordered the intervention as part of a multinational coalition conducting air strikes to shield civilians.

There are supporters and detractors of the U.S. role in both parties. Last week, the House passed two amendments to a defense bill pushing back against the mission, including one prohibiting the use of U.S. ground troops in the North African nation.

House Speaker John Boehner told reporters that Republicans would meet on Thursday to discuss the Libya war and consider their next move. It was unclear whether the Republicans would reschedule a vote or if Kucinich would use procedural rules to try to force one.

Asked why the House had not voted on Wednesday, Boehner repeated his past criticisms that the administration had not adequately defined the mission in Libya.

“I think many Americans are still looking for answers to the questions that I outlined in a letter March 23 to the president. How is this action consistent with U.S. national security and policy goals? Who are the opposition? How does Gaddafi go?

“I think we decided that the House wasn’t ready to decide the question,” Boehner said. Before acting, lawmakers wanted to be sure that what they are doing “is in the best interest of our country.”

Kucinich’s measure would invoke the 1973 War Powers Resolution to direct Obama to stop the U.S. participation in the war. Kucinich says Obama violated the part of the law that prohibits U.S. armed forces from being involved in military actions for more than 60 days without congressional authorization.

But Boehner told reporters that “technically” he did not think Obama had violated the War Powers Resolution. He declined to elaborate. White House officials have suggested that the limited, NATO-led U.S. action might not be enough to reach the law’s threshold.