Tags: | Barack Obama | ISIS/Islamic State | War on Terrorism | Mitch McConnell | ISIS | airstrikes

Mitch McConnell Pushing for Obama to Back Vote on ISIS

Image: Mitch McConnell Pushing for Obama to Back Vote on ISIS
President Barack Obama meets with, from left, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Speaker of the House John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in the Oval Office at the White House on Sept. 9. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

By    |   Wednesday, 10 Sep 2014 10:58 AM

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is calling on President Barack Obama to back a congressional vote on his plans for the Islamic State (ISIS) before the November midterm elections, but the White House insists the president has the authority to act alone, reports Politico.

"He really ought to ask for our support, whether or not he may think he's authorized to do what he intends to do," McConnell told a reporter Tuesday. "I think it's in his best interest."

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McConnell is in a heated battle for re-election in Kentucky, where he's facing Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes in one of the nation's races that could determine whether Democrats will keep control of the Senate.

But as for now, McConnell is coming out as the strongest voice in support of congressional authorization on Obama's plans for ISIS. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has not yet committed to seeking a vote on military action. Leaders on the Democratic side are trying to stay out of the argument, for the most part, but some Senate Democrats are calling for a roll call vote on whether to continue airstrikes in Iraq or expanding into Syria.

Obama will address the nation in prime time Wednesday, when he will outline plans for an expanded military and political effort to combat militants in Syria and Iraq. Further, he will urge Congress to act quickly and give him authority to arm moderate Syrian opposition forces fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad.

However, Obama plans to move forward with other elements of his plan without authorization from lawmakers, including increasing support for Iraqi security forces, as well as military and diplomatic commitments from partners in Europe, the Middle East, and elsewhere.

Republicans have said that they will support Obama if he outlines a comprehensive strategy for defeating ISIS, reports Politico, but Democrats are hoping that the president will ease voters' concerns about the terror organization.

On Tuesday, the key congressional leaders, including McConnell, Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke with Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. They did not discuss the meeting after it ended, except for Reid telling reporters that the president offered a preview of his speech and "we're going to find out tomorrow what he's going to ask us to do."

Meanwhile, White House sources said McConnell did not discuss his authorization plans with the president.

White House officials said Obama plans to seek a "buy-in" from Congress that would "aid the overall effort and demonstrate to the world that the United States is united in defeating the threat from ISIL."

Just hours before the meeting, though, McConnell told reporters after a Senate GOP caucus meeting that "the view of myself and most of the members is the president should be seeking congressional approval, period, for whatever he decides to do."

McConnell admitted the ISIS threat is becoming a campaign issue, as "this is the first time anything outside the borders of the United States have come up on my campaign."

McConnell is not alone in believing Congress should be involved if there is military action. Other members backing that view include Republican Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky; independent Sen. Angus King, of Maine; and Democratic Sens. Bill Nelson of Florida and Tim Kaine of Virginia.

Kaine, like some others, say that if Obama acts without congressional approval, he would be in violation of the War Powers Act, which sets deadlines for military action without congressional approval.

But others, like South Carolina GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham, believe the War Powers Act is unconstitutional and therefore not relevant.

"The president has an abundant amount of authority to conduct operations. It would be good to have Congress on board. I don't think the War Powers Act is constitutional," Graham said. "If Congress doesn't like what he's doing, we can always cut the money off."

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is calling on President Barack Obama to back a congressional vote on his plans for the Islamic State (ISIS) before the November midterm elections, but the White House insists the president has the authority to act alone, reports Politico.
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