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Boehner: House, Senate GOP Agree on Libya

Speaker John Boehner insisted Wednesday that House Republicans and their Senate counterparts are on the same page regarding Libya, even though the two chambers are not in legislative sync on the issue.

While the Ohio Republican is floating both a resolution of disapproval and one of approval of the U.S. involvement in the NATO-led Libya campaign, Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) have criticized some in the party for opposing U.S. operations in the North African country.

“If you’ve listened to what Sen. McCain has said and Sen. Graham, two friends of mine, and you’ve listened to what I and some others have said, we’ve said almost the same exact thing, except that they’re pushing for an authorization in Libya and I don’t think that’s where the House is,” Boehner told reporters at a press conference Wednesday.

Boehner, along with McCain and Graham, has roundly criticized President Barack Obama for not consulting Congress before committing to action in Libya in March, in response to international concerns that dictator Moammar Gadhafi was attacking unarmed civilians and protesters. Obama, however, has contended that he is not required to seek Congress’ approval under the War Powers Act because the mission is being led by NATO allies and involves minimal danger to U.S. military personnel.

The Speaker’s comments came one day after McCain issued a stern warning to House Republicans not to vote to defund the U.S. military involvement in Libya. McCain, ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Senate Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) introduced a resolution Tuesday that would give Congressional approval to continue U.S. military involvement in Libya for one year. Boehner put forward a similar resolution that the House could consider this week, as well as another proposal that would require Obama to remove U.S. military forces engaged in hostilities in Libya. Boehner may also have to contend with a vote on the Defense appropriations bill to prevent Obama from funding Libya operations.

Boehner said he has not been briefed on Obama’s plans to withdraw troops in Afghanistan, which the president is expected to announce in a primetime speech Wednesday night. But the Speaker noted frustration throughout the country on the war, saying: “The American people are weary about Afghanistan, and you can’t blame them.”

“We’ve got some work to do, but clearly the success that Gen. [David] Petraeus outlined is in fact a success,” Boehner said. “We’re getting there, but we’ve got an awful lot invested here, and I’m concerned about any precipitous withdrawal of our troops that I fear would jeopardize the success that we’ve made.”

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