House Republican leader: If Obama won't act on ISIS, we will

Greg Nash

If President Obama won’t act to defeat ISIS, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) says, Congress might move to force his hand.

On Wednesday evening, McCarthy became the highest-ranking Republican elected official to suggest Congress might grant Obama new authority to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

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Lawmakers return to Washington next week for a brief session before the November election. And the threat from ISIS has become a full-blown crisis, especially with the group this week carrying out the much-publicized beheading of a second American journalist.

McCarthy and other Republicans have hammered the president in recent days, after he said he didn’t have a military strategy to disrupt and defeat the terrorist group in Syria.

“I am of support of going in and not sitting back, but creating a strategy of where we go,” McCarthy said in a radio interview with guest host Rep. John Campbell (R-Calif.) on the “Hugh Hewitt Show.”  “And if the president won’t act, I think we have to take some action to move forward.”

Some Republicans, including House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), have called on Congress to vote to give Obama authority to conduct a broader military campaign against ISIS, but GOP leaders haven’t yet committed.

Even McCarthy, the No. 2 Republican in leadership, suggested a formal vote by Congress was something the conference still needed “to discuss.” Four House committees will hold hearings on the ongoing threat from ISIS beginning next week.

There are still a number of outstanding questions, McCarthy said.

“[W]hat about the number of visas or passports? I mean, if they have a Western passport, they don’t have to get a visa,” he said. “They just get on a plane and come into the United States. I think we have to seriously look at everything that we’re doing.”

And McCarthy stressed the need for the commander in chief to outline a strategy on ISIS to avoid “535 foreign policy experts” in Congress “trying to run the military.”

“We have a problem because America’s not leading. We need a very clear, concise foreign policy doctrine of America,” McCarthy said. “Currently, our friends don’t trust us, and our enemies don’t fear us. That’s what’s going on in America today.”

— Updated at 11:53 a.m.

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