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N.M. representatives split on failed House Libya resolution

Reps. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) and Steve Pearce (R-NM) voted against the House resolution authorizing the use of force in Libya, while Rep. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) voted in favor of it as the resolution failed in the House 123-295. 70 Democrats joined 115 Republicans in voting down the measure, supported by eight Republicans and 115 Democrats.

The Obama administration has argued that it does not need congressional authorization under the War Powers Act in Libya since the conflict does not amount to “hostilities”: NATO has controlled the operation since early April, and U.S. forces are only using missile strikes. The administration also argue that casualties are unlikely since there are no ground troops and the military flies unmanned drones to shoot down targets. Two members of President Obama’s own legal team dissented and thought that the mission did in fact require authorization.

Another more restrictive resolution sponsored by Rep. Tom Rooney (R-FL) barring “the use of money for military activities other than search and rescue; aerial refueling; operational planning; and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance” was also defeated,according to the New York Times. All three New Mexico representatives voted against it. Reps. Luján and Pearce voted against authorizing the war, but also against partially defunding it.

It is far from clear, but unlikely given that Democrats control the Senate, that either of these resolutions would ever pass or even come up for a vote. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) thinks the mission is legal.

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