GOP senators fought
back today against the Democratic leadership's plan to debate and vote on the Libya
war this week, but, following that episode, the leader of that effort said it
should be the next item on the Senate's agenda.
Sens. Bob Corker
(R-TN), Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and
several other GOP senators held a late Tuesday afternoon press conference to
celebrate the fact that they forced Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to scuttle his plans to hold a cloture vote on
the Kerry-McCain resolution authorizing the military intervention in Libya.
"The events of this afternoon were very, very significant,"
Sessions said at the presser. "The Senate has sent a message to the leadership
that we expect in this recess period that we do real work on the financial condition
of our country, which includes budget issues and the debt ceiling. Those
matters are of extreme focus for American and we should focus on that."
Of course, there isn't likely to be any floor debate on the
debt limit this week, because those negotiations are stalled and being held
behind closed doors. But there won't be any debate over the Libya war either,
thanks to the efforts of the GOP caucus.
So when should the Senate get around to debating the Libya
war, according to these senators? The
Cable pressed Corker on that question at the press conference. After
several attempts to skirt the question, Corker declared that the Libya debate
was a lower priority because it won't force the administration to actually
change its actions there, but nevertheless should be the Senate's next order of
Here's the exchange:
Josh Rogin: There are a lot of senators who want to debate
the Libya war. It's been almost four months since we attacked Libya. When do
you propose we get back to that?
Bob Corker: I think most people know that the resolution
that's before us was defeated in the House. One of the things that has been a
misnomer, the president has never asked for authorization of Libya.... What he
did say is he would like to have a "sense of the Senate" resolution in support.
In a cute way, he's tried to bypass the War Powers [Resolution]. I would have
respected them more if they would have just said, "Hey we think [the War Powers
Resolution] is unconstitutional." So there's no question that we need to return
to the issue of Libya, because you cannot have somebody calling something "not
hostilities" when it is. Let's settle this once and for all.... I think we will
get back to that.
BC: There was nothing we were going to do this week in the Senate
that in any way would have affected what was actually happening on the ground
in Libya, nothing. Everybody knew that. The Senate might have voiced its
opinion, but since the House already voted against the same resolution, nothing
was going to change. So you're right, we need to get back to that.
BC: In my opinion -- I don't set the agenda -- that ought to
be the very next item after we deal with these financial matters, that are more
pressing and are something that we can actually affect, because again what we
were going to do on Libya, which we are not going to do now, really wasn't
going to affect the activities there either on the ground or in the air one