House Republicans indicated Wednesday night that they don't believe President Barack Obama has developed an effective strategy for destroying the Islamic State, which could complicate efforts in Congress to authorize Obama to carry out his plan.
Obama delivered remarks Wednesday night in which he said he wants to increase airstrikes against the group, arm moderate Syrian rebels, offer intelligence services to U.S. allies, and provide humanitarian aid to victims of terrorism.
In a major reversal, President Barack Obama ordered the United States into a broad military campaign to “degrade and ultimately destroy” militants in two volatile Middle East nations, authorizing airstrikes inside Syria for the first time, as well as an expansion of strikes in Iraq. But Republicans reacted by saying those steps aren't enough. (AP Photo/Saul Loeb, Pool)
Members of Congress were meeting Thursday morning to digest those recommendations. But late Wednesday, GOP leaders in the House indicated they don't believe Obama has gone far enough.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) praised Obama for finally starting to make the case for using force to rein in the Islamic State. But Boehner also said the speech raised many questions about how to go about doing this.
"I support the president's plan to train and equip the Iraqi Security Forces and Syrian opposition, but I remain concerned that those measures could take years to fully implement at a time when ISIL's momentum and territorial gains need to be immediately halted and reversed," Boehner said, using an acronym for the Islamic State.
"It is also a cause for concern that the president appears to view the effort against ISIL as an isolated counterterrorism campaign, rather than as what it must be: an all-out effort to destroy an enemy that has declared a holy war against America and the principles for which we stand," Boehner added.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) added that "more must be done."
"We must recognize ISIL is but a symptom of a broader terrorist threat that has been ignored for too long by this administration," he said. "Preventing the next 9/11 requires us to confront the reality that Al Qaeda has metastasized, and that radical terrorists operating out of sanctuaries in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and elsewhere pose a growing threat to the United States must be destroyed."
"If our efforts to combat this scourge are to be successful, it will require a level of commitment to this fight against terrorism not yet seen by this president," McCarthy added.
Neither House leader mentioned the use of ground troops in Iraq, Syria or elsewhere, although their comments indicate that they believe this sort of step may be a requirement for destroying the Islamic State. Several television commentators have also raised questions about how the U.S. can destroy the group — or even lead an international coalition — without using substantial ground forces.
Republican demands for a more aggressive plan could affect the way the House writes a bill authorizing Obama to use military force. Republicans met Thursday for an initial discussion on how to proceed, and there are many questions to be considered, including whether the House should add conditions to its authorization.
In the meantime, however, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) is known to be writing his own war authorization, which is likely to mirror Obama's remarks.
Thursday morning, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Congress should back Obama's plan of attacking the Islamic State without the use of ground troops.