House puts off vote on Libya resolution

By DONNA CASSATA | June 1, 2011 | 1:59 PM EDT

In this photo taken Monday, May 23, 2011, men walk next to a destroyed tank in Tripoli Street, the center of fighting between forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and rebels in downtown Misrata, Libya. Since the weeks-long siege of the city ended in mid-May, Misrata residents make pilgrimages to Tripoli Street, site of the fiercest fighting in the battle for Libya between the rebels and Moammar Gadhafi's forces. People gawk at the wreckage of bombed-out buildings with gaping holes and walls pocked by bullets, and shoot photos of charred hulks of tanks, rubble-strewn streets and a side walk museum featuring drumloads of bullet casings, uniforms of dead enemies, and unexploded munitions. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House postponed a vote on a resolution demanding an end to U.S. involvement in Libya amid fears that Democrats and Republicans would unite in backing the measure and handing President Barack Obama an embarrassing foreign policy defeat.

The GOP leadership had scheduled a vote Wednesday on the resolution by Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, that "directs the president to remove United States Armed Forces from Libya ... not later than 15 days after the adoption" of the measure. The vote was delayed as the leadership and Obama administration realized frustrated lawmakers likely would support it.

Nearly three months after Obama launched air strikes to back the rebels battling Moammar Gadhafi, Republican and Democratic lawmakers are exasperated with the administration and its ability to spell out a strategy, said one GOP leadership aide, speaking on condition of anonymity to freely describe the situation.

Forces loyal to Gadhafi and the rebels remain in a standoff as NATO and its partners in the military campaign to protect Libyan civilians said Wednesday they have decided to extend their mission for another 90 days

The House GOP plans to hold a special meeting Thursday to weigh Congress' next steps, including the possibility of rescheduling a vote on the resolution.

In a statement, Kucinich said the GOP leadership told him the vote had been delayed to obtain more information and consult with the administration.

"I am disappointed that the president and leadership feel the need to buy even more time to shore up support for the war in Libya," Kucinich said. "It's not surprising that some are now wondering if a preliminary vote count on my resolution came out in favor of defending the Constitution."

Kucinich said Obama violated the Constitution because only Congress has the power to declare war. The lawmaker also said Obama violated the War Powers Act requiring congressional authorization 60 days after the start of military operations.

Obama spokesman Jay Carney defended the U.S. action in Libya, and said Obama is not exceeding his powers in keeping the U.S. involved in the NATO-led campaign.

"We feel strongly that the president has acted in a way that is consistent with the war powers resolution," he said.

Obama backs a Senate resolution written by Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and John McCain, R-Ariz., supporting the U.S. military role in the NATO-led operation.

Last week, the House overwhelmingly backed an amendment to the defense bill barring any taxpayer dollars for U.S. ground forces or private security contractors in Libya with the exception of those involved in rescue missions of U.S. servicemembers. The vote was 416-5.

Obama recently said the U.S. involvement is limited in the NATO-led operation. He also has said he would not send ground forces.