House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Thursday said many Republicans have significant doubts that President Barack Obama's game plan for attacking the Islamic State will work, and indicated that Republicans believe a significant commitment of ground troops is the only way to defeat the terrorist group.
"The president's made clear that he doesn't want U.S. boots on the ground," Boehner told reporters. "Well, somebody's boots have to be on the ground."
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio warned Thursday that many Republicans doubt Obama's plan to fight the Islamic State will work. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
"An F-16 is not a strategy, and airstrikes alone will not accomplish what we're trying to accomplish," he added.
Boehner was part of a classified briefing with administration officials about Obama's plan, and a GOP meeting. He said several Republicans in the latter meeting expressed doubts about Obama's plan.
"I can tell you in our conversations this morning, a lot of our members don't feel like the campaign that was outlined last night will accomplish the mission that the president says, and that is to destroy ISIL," he said, referring to a shorthand name for the Islamic State.
"Frankly, a lot of our members think a lot more needs to be done than what was laid out last night," he said.
"We've got to keep our eye on the ball," Boehner concluded. "The issue here is about defeating a terrorist threat that is real and imminent."
Obama hesitated to even call his new proposed efforts a "war," and instead referred to it as a "fight" against a terrorist group.
Boehner also criticized Obama for delivering a speech that said explicitly the steps Obama does not want to take in Syria and Iraq, such as committing ground troops.
"I would never tell enemy what I was willing to do or unwilling to do," he said. "But he is the commander in chief, he made that decision."
Despite those criticisms, Boehner said he supported the idea of having Congress give Obama the express authority to arm and train moderate Syrians fighting the Islamic State and their own government.
"At this point in time, it's important we give the president what he's asking for," Boehner said.
But Boehner said so far, the White House has not sent over any proposed language authorizing those activities. He said the White House has generally proposed this language in the 24 years he's been in the House, but said the House has not seen any language yet.
When asked why the House doesn't write and pass its own language, Boehner said, "Typically, in my time here in Congress, that's not how this has happened."
Boehner also said it's not clear whether the House would try to attach any war authorization language to a short-term spending bill that the House is expected to pass next week.