President Barack Obama told congressional leaders Tuesday that he has the authority he needs to carry out a broader campaign to root out the violent extremists in Iraq and Syria, a day before outlining his plans to the American people in a prime-time address.
The White House said the president told lawmakers that he still would welcome action 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.” That could take the form of congressional authorization to fund counterterrorism efforts, as well as train and equip more moderate elements of the Syrian opposition.
The president’s broader strategy to confront the Islamic State militants may also include more wide-ranging airstrikes against targets in Iraq and possibly in Syria. The U.S. began launching limited airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq in August, action that occurred at the invitation of the Iraqi government but without specific authorization from Congress.
Even before Obama’s meeting with congressional leaders, some lawmakers had suggested a vote on the president’s plans was unlikely before the midterm elections in November.
“As a practical matter, I don’t really see the time that it would take to really get this out and have a full debate and discuss all the issues,” said Republican Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.
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