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WASHINGTON — House lawmakers want to know why they weren’t consulted before U.S. troops were sent to Libya.

On Wednesday, the House Armed Services Committee forwarded a resolution to the full chamber demanding any documents or correspondence explaining why Congress was not more involved in lead-up to Operation Odyssey Dawn, launched March 18 to stop Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi from massacring opposition forces protesting his rule.

“Although select members were invited to a conference call during a constituent work week, immediately preceding the president’s press conference, a phone call can hardly be considered significant consultation,” said Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Calif., chairman of the committee. “The decision to send forces into harm’s way can never be taken lightly. The founding fathers sought to ensure that the executive, acting along, could not commit our nation to war. This body rightfully has a constitutional responsibility to uphold.”

White House officials have insisted that Congress was involved in the decision to participate in the NATO action. In late March, administration spokesman Jay Carney said that questions from lawmakers “have by and large been answered” and that senior staff had been engaged with Congress “in a very substantial way.”

But on Wednesday, lawmakers from both political parties criticized the rapid pace of the military action and the lack of discussion with Congress. The resolution requires defense officials to produce the documentation within two weeks of passage by the full House, although no timetable has been set for that vote.

Pentagon officials estimate that U.S. forces have spent more than $750 million enforcing the no-fly zone.

shanel@stripes.osd.mil

Twitter: @LeoShane

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