WASHINGTON — US Senator John Kerry indicated Tuesday that he and other backers of NATO-led strikes against Libya were unlikely to seek a vote on a resolution formally authorizing the US role in that military operation.
"The original resolution is in limbo at this point," said Kerry, who in late March partnered with like-minded lawmakers to craft such a measure in case it were needed to satisfy a requirement of a US law governing the use of force overseas.
Some lawmakers have charged that US President Barack Obama overstepped his constitutional bounds by ordering US strikes against Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi's forces acting before securing formal approval from Congress.
But "the US has turned it (the operation) over to NATO" and "we're not engaged in any kind of active hostilities," said Kerry, a Democrat who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The US Constitution reserves to congress the right to declare war, though US presidents have often deployed forces without first getting lawmakers' explicit say-so, despite a 1973 law that aimed to curtail their ability to do so.
The War Powers Act allows the president to use force in response to an attack on the United States, its territories, or its armed forces, but requires that congress be notified within 48 hours.
It also says US troops must start to withdraw within 60 days unless specifically authorized to remain by lawmakers.
With that date set to fall on May 20, Kerry said a resolution to give the congressional green light was no longer "a very heated question" among his colleagues.
But Kerry noted that Senator Richard Lugar, the top Republican on his committee, had "legitimate War Powers questions" that deserved an answer from the Obama administration.
The US Senate on March 1 unanimously passed a non-binding resolution urging the world to consider imposing a no-fly zone over Libya and Kadhafi's bloody crackdown on civilian foes of his regime.
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