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Top Democrat Durbin echoes Boehner stance on Libya

June 20, 2011|By Lisa Mascaro
(NBC )

House Speaker John Boehner and the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate are now inadvertently sharing talking points on President Obama stance on Libya, both saying it doesn't pass the "straight-face test."

The unusually aligned rhetoric between Boehner, a Republican, and Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), the majority whip, offers another sign of the emerging bipartisan alliance against the White House's reluctance to seek congressional approval for the military operation under the War Powers Act.

"It just doesn't pass the straight face test, in my view, that we're not in the midst of hostilities," Boehner said last week about the White House assessment that the aerial bombings underway by the U.S. military as part of the NATO-led operation do not constitute hostilities under the act.

Durbin, on Sunday's "Meet the Press," said similarly: "It doesn't pass a straight-face test in my view that we're not in the midst of hostilities."

Where the two leaders go from there, however, is a point of diversion.

"The president is doing the right thing," Durbin said about the military operation. But he said, "We are engaged in hostilities in Libya. What we should do is act on a timely basis to pass congressional authorization under the War Powers Act."

Boehner is under pressure from conservative Republicans in the House to use the upcoming debate on the fiscal 2012 Pentagon spending bill to alter the president's position.

lmascaro@tribune.com

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