WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A group of U.S. senators introduced a resolution on Monday expressing support for American military action in Libya, but it stops short of officially authorizing the action ordered by President Obama in March.
The nonbinding resolution, if passed, would be the first such action by lawmakers on the Libya mission since it began.
On March 21 Obama notified Congress he had ordered military strikes against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi as part of a multinational coalition to protect Libyan civilians.
Some in Congress wanted a debate and a vote on the military operation, but their efforts bogged down. Last week, Obama said the mission would benefit from congressional support.
"I support President Obama's decision to commit U.S. forces to the mission in Libya, and I hope this resolution will elicit a broad statement of bipartisan support among my Senate colleagues for our use of force in Libya," said John McCain, one of a group of sponsors that included Republicans and Democrats.
Obama said last week he would support a resolution that would confirm Congress supports the U.S. mission in Libya, after some lawmakers warned the exercise was about to become illegal because it had gone on for more than 60 days without congressional authorization.
The president did not ask Congress to authorize the action, which critics say is demanded by the 1973 War Powers Act.
The White House has indicated it did not view the level of U.S. military involvement in Libya as reaching the threshold that would trigger the War Powers Act.
Since March, NATO allies including France, Britain and the United States have conducted a campaign of air strikes to shield civilians from Gaddafi's forces. Obama has ruled out putting U.S. troops on the ground in Libya and says it is inevitable that Gaddafi will have to leave power.