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Senate eyes year limit on Libya mission House may cut off funds as it weighs defense bill

Key senators on Tuesday urged giving the White House authority for a one-year, limited Libya mission, but sentiment was growing in the House of Representatives to cut off the operation's funding.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John F. Kerry, D-Mass., who proposed the one-year measure, argued that not supporting efforts such as those of the Libyan rebels would "be ignorant, irresponsible and shortsighted and dangerous for our country."

He and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., President Obama's 2008 Republican opponent, are pushing a measure that would authorize the use of U.S. armed forces "to advance national security interests in Libya as part of the international coalition" that is involved in that country.

But the resolution says, "Congress does not support deploying, establishing or maintaining the presence of units and members of the United States Armed Forces on the ground in Libya unless the purpose of the presence is limited to the immediate personal defense of United States Government officials or to rescuing members of NATO forces from imminent danger."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the Senate probably could pass the measure, though he offered no timetable.

But in the House, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., had a different view.

"Our members are frustrated over the president's action, his lack of positing a clear vision and mission," he said.

Discussions were under way on possible House action, including denying funds for the operation as part of a defense-spending bill that is expected to be considered beginning Thursday.

The White House has said the United States spent $716 million through June 3 on the Libya campaign, and it estimates the mission will cost $1.1 billion by Sept. 30. The funds are expected to come from already appropriated money.

In another development Tuesday, the Treasury Department took new steps to isolate Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's regime and provide incentives for its members to quit.

Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control imposed blocking requirements on three additional Libyan banks on the grounds that they helped move money for another financial institution -- the Libyan Arab Foreign Bank -- that had been subject to sanctions since Feb. 25.

The three banks are the Arab Turkish Bank, the North Africa International Bank and the North Africa Commercial Bank.

In Libya, NATO commanders confirmed Monday that an errant airstrike had killed innocent civilians west of Tripoli. Reports suggested that nine to 15 civilians were killed.

A NATO spokesman also acknowledged Tuesday that an unmanned helicopter drone had crashed, although it wasn't clear whether mechanical failure or hostile fire was to blame.

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