WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The House of Representatives is expected to vote this week on a proposal to cut off funds for U.S. military hostilities in Libya, lawmakers in the Republican majority said on Wednesday.
The measure, which is still being drafted, would ban funding for U.S. participation in combat missions such as drone attacks in the NATO-led air war, said Representative Howard McKeon, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.
“It would not have funding for hostilities. The drones couldn’t be used for bombing,” McKeon told reporters.
A vote is likely on Friday. It is unclear if the measure can pass and Senate approval is unlikely. But criticism has been building in Congress, especially in the Republican-led House, of U.S. involvement in the Libya campaign and President Barack Obama’s refusal to ask Congress for its consent.
The House measure would allow U.S. funding to continue until October 1 for “non-hostile’ actions such as search and rescue, aerial refueling, operational planning, and intelligence, Republican aides said.
They said the intent was to let Washington maintain support for the NATO-led operation, while stopping further U.S. involvement in combat missions in Libya.
NATO is leading the effort to protect Libyan civilians from Muammar Gaddafi’s forces — a mission whose unstated goal seems to be to drive the Libyan leader from power — with the United States providing logistical support and intelligence.
In the Democratic-led Senate, a bipartisan measure authorizing the U.S. military intervention in Libya was introduced this week by Democrat John Kerry and Republican John McCain
The House is also expected to vote this week on a measure basically the same as the Kerry-McCain proposal. Republican aides do not expect that measure to pass the House.
The decision to vote on cutting off funds came after several House Republicans told a closed-door party meeting on Wednesday they wanted to vote on something stronger than a non-binding reprimand of Obama.
“We’re kind of cash-strapped in our country right now and the last thing we need to do is be engaged in another combat theater of operations,” Republican Representative Allen West told reporters.
Additional reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Peter Cooney