The White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough has urged Congress to follow the President’s line on Islamic State and to not authorise any military action against the terrorist group.
According to a report by Reuters the Republican-led Congress should not sidestep the president’s request to formally authorise military action against Islamic State forces, saying lawmakers must not “take a pass”.
President Barack Obama has previously ordered the U.S. military to carry out a series of air strikes on Islamic State forces in Iraq and Syria since last summer but has done so without explicit authorisation from Congress.
President Obama is looking to have a clear policy on Islamic State and has already sent a formal request to Congress but the Republican led Congress is looking to impose stronger measures on the terrorist group.
This is at odds with members of the Democrats who are nervous about increasing military actions as they fear it could potentially lead to another war in the Middle East.
McDonough said: “What they shouldn’t do this time is what they did in 2013, when they took a pass on this issue.” Congress can change the language in the proposed resolution, he said, but not avoid action altogether.
“They need to take a position, to say what they are for and what they are against on this,” McDonough said on CBS’s “Face the Nation”. “It’s very important in questions of war and peace for Congress to be heard,” said the Reuters report.
President Obama has fiercely defended his policy to work with a coalition against Islamic State and this new formal request looks to gain the support of all in Congress to try to prevent members from accusing him of exceeding his constitutional authority.
According to Reuters, House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, speaking on the “Fox News Sunday” program, said “it’s too early to predict” whether Congress will pass authorization legislation for the fight against Islamic State.
Boehner said House Republicans plan “exhaustive hearings” on the matter. “The president is asking for less authority than he has today under previous authorizations. I don’t think that’s smart,” Boehner added.
Republican Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, also speaking on CBS, said “robust” hearings were planned in the Senate according to Reuters.
Obama’s plan does not authorize “long-term, large-scale ground combat operations” such as those in Iraq and Afghanistan. The draft allows for certain ground combat operations including hostage rescues and the use of special forces.