The White House said Friday that it has no plans to send Congress proposed language that would authorize the Obama administration to carry out its plans to expand airstrikes against the Islamic State and help moderate Syrians.
"At this point, we have not, and I don't know of any plan to do so at this point," White House Spokesman Josh Earnest said when asked if the White House would send Congress language.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Friday there are no plans he knows of to ask Congress for authorization to take steps against the Islamic State. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
That answer goes directly against the expectation of House Republican leaders. On Thursday, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said that in the nearly quarter of a century he's been in the House, the White House has always proposed language authorizing military action.
Boehner was asked Thursday if the House might write its own authorization language, and while he didn't rule out that option, he indicated some resistance to the idea. "Typically, in my time here in Congress, that's not how this has happened," he said.
It also goes against comments that House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) made on Wednesday, when he said the administration would seek authority from Congress to arm moderate Syrians.
Boehner's comments, coupled with Earnest's remarks, raise the possibility that Congress may not end up passing any legislation at all to authorize the White House's strategy against the Islamic State. That would appear to be fine with the White House, as Earnest repeated Friday that officials don't believe they need any authorization from Congress.
At the same time, Earnest said the White House would welcome "support" from Congress if it wants to pass something.
"The president would welcome support from Congress for this strategy," he said. "There are a variety of ways that Congress could indicate this support, and the president believes this support, or this indication of support, would be beneficial, because it would demonstrate to our allies and to our enemies that the United States stands united in pursuit of this strategy."
The Obama administration has argued that its plans to increase airstrikes and arm some Syrians are not acts of war. President Barack Obama himself declined to call it a war in his Wednesday night address to the nation, and Secretary John Kerry explicitly said the U.S. is not at war with the terrorist group.
But Boehner said Thursday that many Republicans are not happy with Obama's strategy, and don't believe it will have the intended effect of destroying the Islamic State. That point of view could prompt Republicans to push for language that puts restrictions on or sets guidelines for Obama's plan, although Boehner indicated that no decisions have been made.