Maryland lawmakers split on Libya
Maryland’s congressional delegation split along party lines Friday over a resolution in the House of Representatives that would have authorized President Barack Obama to continue U.S. military involvement in Libya for one year, with the state’s six Democrats in support and two Republicans opposed.
The measure, similar to one pending in the Senate that is backed by Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, failed on a vote of 123-295. Seventy Democrats joined all but eight Republicans in opposition.
Lawmakers in both parties have grown increasingly restive about the administration’s approach to Libya, which began with a series of airstrikes in March to weaken forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi. Obama has maintained he does not need authorization from Congress to continue the effort because the military is not engaged in full-blown hostilities.
"A sudden withdrawal of American support for the mission would strengthen Gadhafi’s hand and increase his confidence that he can wait out the rebellion against his rule," said Rep. Steny Hoyer, the Southern Maryland lawmaker and second-ranking Democrat in the House.
Democratic Reps. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, Elijah E. Cummings, John Sarbanes, Donna F. Edwards, Chris Van Hollen and Hoyer voted in favor of the resolution. Republican Reps. Andy Harris and Roscoe G. Bartlett voted against it.
In a second vote Monday, the delegation split again mostly along party lines over whether to cut off funding for the effort, with Harris supporting that measure, and Bartlett joining the state's six Democrats to oppose it. That measure also failed, on a 180-238 vote.
Eighty-nine Republicans joined all but 36 Democrats in opposition to the funding proposal.
"I will not offer tacit approval of the president’s actions," Bartlett, who joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers in suing the Obama administration over Libya last week. "That is why I voted no on these resolutions. Neither acknowledged the grave fact that President Obama violated and continues to flout our Constitution as well as the War Powers Resolution.”
An earlier version of this post misstated Bartlett's vote.