By Justin Sink
President Obama would have "a lot of congressional support" — including that of Minority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellObama administration officials ramp up push for Pacific pact Overnight Defense: GOP leaders express concerns after 9/11 veto override | Lawmakers press for Syria 'plan B' | US touts anti-ISIS airstrikes Overnight Finance: Lawmakers call for criminal charges for Wells Fargo chief | Ryan sees recession without tax reform | Aide defends Trump Cuba deals MORE — if he asked for a vote to authorize airstrikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the Kentucky Republican said Wednesday.
"I think it would make sense for him to get our support," McConnell said in an interview with CNN. "It's pretty clear ISIS is a serious threat. They have the potential to hit us here at home. He's the president of the United States and, if he's prepared to try to prevent that, I'm sure he will have a lot of congressional support."
"I believe and others believe that ISIS could hit us here at home, and that trumps all other considerations, and I'm anxious to hear what the president has in mind and I think he's likely to get support," McConnell said.
The U.S. has already launched at least 100 airstrikes agains ISIS targets in Iraq, although the White House has said it does not need explicit congressional authorization for those missions because they were intended to protect American personnel and interests inside the country and were executed at the invitation of the government in Baghdad.
But administration officials have indicated that if the president decides also to hit ISIS targets in Syria, he may not seek congressional approval.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Monday that Obama is “committed to coordinating and consulting with Congress,” but said the president “will not hesitate to use his authority” to keep Americans safe.
Sen. Tim KaineTim KaineThe Trail 2016: Just a little kick Clinton camp touts 40 more GOP endorsements Kaine leaves campaign trail for VP debate prep MORE (D-Va.) has said he does not believe the president has authorization for the strikes, and has called for the president to bring a strategy to Congress for a vote in the next two weeks.
"Congress should vote up or down on it," Kaine said.
A year ago, Obama came to Congress to authorize strikes against Syrian President Bashar Assad, who is engaged in an ongoing civil war against both ISIS and a moderate opposition. Obama explained his decision by saying that the country would be “stronger” if he asked for Congress’s approval.
“I wasn’t elected to avoid hard decisions,” Obama said at the time. “And neither were the members of the House and the Senate.”
But the White House has said that potential strikes against ISIS are "different" than those against Assad, which would have been to punish the dictator's use of chemical weapons.