Unlike the House of Representatives, where the members seem widely split over what if anything to do regarding Libya, a bipartisan group of Senators are pressing binding legislation authorizing the "limited use" of U.S. military force in Libya for one year. The Kerry-McCain resolution is substantially different from an earlier version because that was merely a sense of Congress measure, and this would be sent to the President for signing into law. The use of force is limited to "support of U.S. national security interests as part of the NATO mission to enforce UNSC Resolution 1973." While a "sense of Congress" section endorses the "departure from power" of Muammar Qaddafi, the operative language does not include that goal. And while another section is titled "Opposition to the use of U.S. Ground Troops," the actual language says only "Congress does not support" such action, rather than more restrictive language, such as "no funds may be used."
Although I remain skeptical of the Libyan operation, I think this is a reasonable way for Congress to reassert its Constitutional role and set conditions for the use of force. The measure also could be amended, if majorities could be found for different conditions. If Congress really cares about preserving its war powers, it ought to pass something -- and work to be sure something passes.