Just hours after President Obama’s announcement late Thursday that the U.S. would strike limited targets in Iraq, there already appear to be some divisions in Congress about whether the intervention is warranted—or not enough.
On recess until Sept. 8, Congress will have little formal say in Obama’s Iraq policy. But the president vowed to continue consulting lawmakers, and a number of key leaders quickly voiced their support for the air strikes against the militant group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat, and his counterpart in the House, California Republican Rep. Buck McKeon, said the president’s actions were justified by the events on the ground. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland described the airstrikes as “appropriate” and “necessary,” reiterating the need for the Iraqis to form a more inclusive government.
But congressional hawks were quick to point out that Obama wasn’t doing enough, arguing that the goal of U.S. intervention should be to defeat ISIS. Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina issued a joint statement calling on the president to leave behind the attempt to contain ISIS and present a “strategic approach” for stopping them.
“The president needs to devise a comprehensive strategy to degrade ISIS,” the senators wrote. “This should include the provision of military and other assistance to our Kurdish, Iraqi, and Syrian partners who are fighting ISIS. It should include U.S. airstrikes against ISIS leaders, forces, and positions both in Iraq and Syria. It should include support to Sunni Iraqis who seek to resist ISIS. And none of this should be contingent on the formation of a new government in Baghdad.”
House Speaker John Boehner also called for a comprehensive effort.
“The president needs a long-term strategy—one that defines success as completing our mission, not keeping political promises—and he needs to build the support to sustain it,” Boehner said. “If the president is willing to put forward such a strategy, I am ready to listen and work with him.”
Alabama Republican Rep. Bradley Byrne said the danger ISIS presents to the American people warrants greater involvement.
“While I want U.S. involvement to be limited, we can no longer sit on the sidelines while Iraq falls back into the hands of terrorists,” Byrne tweeted.
A few were more cautious about getting re-involved, however. House Foreign Affairs Committee ranking member Eliot Engel said only that he supported the “relief effort” and made no mention of the airstrikes. And Florida Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson took to Twitter to push a “No New War” petition, which opposes U.S. military intervention in Iraq and has garnered more than 25,000 signatures.
U.S. Airstrikes in Iraq Have Begun
After conducting humanitarian air-drops Thursday night, the U.S. is now going after ISIS.
What We're Following See More »
"Centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right politician Marine Le Pen led the first round of voting in France’s presidential election, according to early projections, as voters redrew the political map, placing the European Union at the center of a new political divide. Projections by the Kantar-Sofres polling firm showed Mr. Macron on track to win the first round with about 24% of the vote, ahead of Ms. Le Pen with nearly 22%." The vote marks the end of the country's dominance by conservative and socialist parties. The top vote-getters head to a runoff on May 7.
President Trump will deliver the keynote address for at the National Holocaust Museum's National Day of Remembrance ceremony on Tuesday. He'll speak from the Capitol Rotunda. The move is likely an effort to try to mend fences with Jewish groups. In January, "the White House ignited controversy when it didn't mention Jews or anti-Semitism in a statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day." And certain members of his inner circle are still suspected of harboring white supremacist or anti-Semitic views."
"President Trump and his top aides applied new pressure Sunday on lawmakers to include money for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border in a must-pass government funding bill, raising the possibility of a federal government shutdown this week. In a pair of tweets, Trump attacked Democrats for opposing the wall and insisted that Mexico would pay for it “at a later date,” despite his repeated campaign promises not including that qualifier. And top administration officials appeared on Sunday morning news shows to press for wall funding, including White House budget director Mick Mulvaney, who said Trump might refuse to sign a spending bill that does not include any."
A Russian government think tank run by Putin loyalists "developed a plan to swing the 2016 U.S. presidential election to Donald Trump and undermine voters’ faith in the American electoral system." Two confidential documents from the Putin-backed Institute for Strategic Studies, obtained by U.S. intelligence, provide "the framework and rationale for what U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded was an intensive effort by Russia to interfere with the Nov. 8 election."
"The FBI last year used a dossier of allegations of Russian ties to Donald Trump's campaign as part of the justification" to monitor Carter Page, who was then a defense adviser to the Trump campaign. "The dossier has also been cited by FBI Director James Comey in some of his briefings to members of Congress in recent weeks."