Tags: Barack Obama | Iraq in Crisis | ISIS/Islamic State | Middle East | Syria | War on Terrorism | ISIS

Boehner, GOP Mum on Obama $5B Plan to Defeat Islamic State

Boehner, GOP Mum on Obama $5B Plan to Defeat Islamic State
Islamic State fighters in Raqqa, Syria. (Stringer/Reuters/Landov)

By    |   Tuesday, 09 September 2014 06:11 AM

President Barack Obama will meet Tuesday afternoon with congressional leaders seeking their support for $5 billion in counterterrorism money to combat the Islamic State (ISIS), The Hill reported.

Other members of Congress will be briefed separately. On Wednesday in a prime time address, the president is set to publicly outline his approach to dealing with the extremist threat.

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The White House is saying that no decision has been made on whether to expand the U.S. campaign against the Islamic State. At the same time, congressional approval would provide symbolic backing for the president's approach without asking members to "buy in" outright to military action, the Hill reported.

On the hill, however, skepticism grew about whether Obama would deliver on a strong response to ISIS.

House Speaker John Boehner said the militants pose a serious threat that must be dealt with in Iraq, Syria or wherever they exist.

"I think we need to be going after the terrorist threat wherever it is and anyone who thinks this is just an Iraq-Syria issue is not paying much attention to what's happening around the world," Boehner told reporters after a House Republican caucus meeting with former Vice President Dick Cheney. The speaker said no decision would be made on whether Congress votes until Obama lays out his plan.

There is no consensus in Congress on whether Obama needs new authorization to attack the militants. Some lawmakers say the president has the authority under the Constitution and no new vote is necessary. Others are reluctant to vote weeks before midterm elections.

Despite the disagreements, Republicans have seized on Obama's concession last month that the administration had no strategy, with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell using that statement in a campaign ad.

In a speech on the Senate floor, McConnell set the parameters for Obama, saying the president needs to identify military objectives and explain how they will be accomplished.

"He needs to present this plan to the Congress and the American people, and where the president believes he lacks authority to execute such a strategy, he needs to explain to the Congress how additional authority for the use of force will protect America," McConnell said. "The threat from ISIL is real and it's growing. It's time for President Obama to exercise some leadership in launching a response." ISIL is an alternative name for the militants.

In the House GOP meeting, Cheney stressed the importance of American leadership in the world to a Republican caucus that's split between hawks and tea partiers.

"His message primarily was that he sees the pattern of this president leading to a less safe world and a much more problematic relationship with our historic allies, whether they're in the Middle East or Europe," Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said.

Rep. Lee Terry, R-Neb., said the former vice president wasn't advocating any specific course of action. "But doing nothing and pulling out, he stressed several times, wasn't a good national strategic policy," he said.


In May, when the administration first raised the $5 billion figure, it said $2.5 billion was needed to train and equip "partners" in the battle against the Islamic State and another $1.5 billion would go to Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, and Iraq for refugee relief. An additional $500 million would be set aside for "unforeseen contingencies," according to The Hill.

Past bipartisan criticism disparaged such a request as asking for a "slush fund" that would evade congressional oversight. Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Illinois, said approving the money would give Obama too much unsupervised leeway, The Hill reported.

Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida and Republican Rep. Frank Wolf of Virginia are pushing for a congressional vote to authorize airstrikes against the Islamic State. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein of California and Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio have argued that the president already has the necessary authority to carry out any airstrikes.

The president said on "Meet the Press" that he has the necessary "authorization" to "protect the American people." White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the administration was nevertheless "certainly interested ... in getting some buy-in from Congress, and is open to considering the kinds of things that they want to move forward," the Hill reported.

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President Barack Obama will meet Tuesday afternoon with congressional leaders seeking their support for $5 billion in counterterrorism money to combat the Islamic State (ISIS), The Hill reported.
ISIS, counterterrorism, Obama, terrorism, Islamic State
Tuesday, 09 September 2014 06:11 AM
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