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Boehner Disputes White House Account on Libya

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 16, 2011
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 16, 2011

The speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, John Boehner, has disputed a White House argument that U.S. forces are not facing hostilities in Libya.

The White House said in a report to Congress Wednesday that the U.S. military action in Libya does not require congressional authorization because American forces are playing a "limited, supporting" role.

But Boehner, speaking to reporters Thursday, said the U.S. is spending $10 million a day on efforts that include drone attacks and bombing compounds of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.  He said it does not pass the test, in his view, that the United States is not in the midst of hostilities.

He and other lawmakers, both Democrats and fellow Republicans, have criticized the president for not seeking congressional approval for the mission.  Boehner said Thursday that the House has options, including voting on U.S. spending for the NATO-led operation.  He said lawmakers may be prepared to take steps next week.

The administration says President Barack Obama did not exceed his powers in ordering the action and is operating consistent with the 1973 War Powers Act, which requires U.S. forces to withdraw from military operations by the 90-day mark, absent congressional authorization.

Boehner has warned Obama that he will violate the War Powers Act unless U.S. operations in Libya end by Sunday - the 90-day mark - or he asks for and receives congressional approval to continue the mission.

Obama informed Congress in March of his decision to take military action in Libya, but did not seek congressional approval.  On Wednesday, a bipartisan group of 10 House lawmakers filed a legal challenge to the involvement.

Obama administration officials originally described the U.S. military commitment as an emergency move to protect civilians from the Libyan government's violent suppression of an opposition uprising.

The U.S. has had a key support role in the operation, including aerial refueling of warplanes and providing intelligence and surveillance.

The House passed a resolution this month demanding a report from Congress on the Libya military operation.

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