By Justin Sink
Viewers tuning in to President Obama’s primetime address Wednesday should expect few details about the cost or length of the U.S. strategy to fight militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the White House said Tuesday.
"In the context of the speech that the president is preparing for tomorrow, I wouldn't expect something that's quite that detailed," Earnest said as he was peppered with questions about how any expansion of military force would be paid for.
The press secretary also said the White House did not have "a specific deadline" for congressional action, but that Obama "would certainly welcome support from members of Congress however they choose to show it."
And Earnest deflected questions about putting a timetable on how long an expanded military operation against ISIS could take, or outlining concrete military objectives.
Still, the White House anticipates "intensive consultations" with members of Congress about his strategy and the need for additional resources, Earnest said. The president will meet Tuesday afternoon with Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerRepublican Study Committee elders back Harris for chairman Dems to GOP: Help us fix ObamaCare The disorderly order of presidential succession MORE (R-Ohio), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidBlack Caucus demands Flint funding from GOP Report: Intelligence officials probing Trump adviser's ties to Russia White House preps agencies for possible shutdown MORE (D-Nev.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellTrump slams Obama for ‘shameful’ 9/11 bill veto GOP chairman lobbies against overriding Obama on 9/11 bill Black Caucus demands Flint funding from GOP MORE (R-Ky.) at the White House.
"I’m confident that the president and the congressional leaders will have the kind of meeting that reflects the seriousness of the situation," Earnest said.
Additionally, the White House spokesman said that "dozens" of members of both parties had received classified briefings from administration officials in the past week, and that every member of Congress would be welcomed to classified briefings on Thursday.
"That is an indication and just gives you a little snapshot of this administration’s commitment to robust consultation with Congress," Earnest said.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday that the administration was weighing a major acceleration of airstrikes against the terror group in Iraq, targeting logistics hubs and supply lines. The strikes would also assist forces loyal to the central government in Baghdad to reclaim territory from the terror group.
Obama is also considering whether to expand those airstrikes into Syria, where ISIS is based. The administration is thought to be more cautious of such a move because the U.S. intelligence has less of a foothold there. Strikes could benefit the Assad regime and raise new questions about congressional authorization.
Earnest said Tuesday that the president's speech would discuss broader themes than just potential military action.
"People who focus only on that success are missing the other critical elements of their strategy that are critical to our success," Earnest said, adding that the U.S. would not serve as an "air force" in the region.
"Again, I mentioned this earlier, I’ll say it again, those who expect that military action alone will ensure our long-term sustained success in Iraq, have failed to learn the lessons of the last decade. It is critically important for us to build a genuine international coalition."
Some members of Congress, including Sens. Bill NelsonBill NelsonGOP puts shutdown squeeze play on Dems Overnight Healthcare: McConnell unveils new Zika package | Manchin defends daughter on EpiPens | Bill includes M for opioid crisis Dem to support spending bill despite no Flint aid MORE (D-Fla.) and Tim KaineTim KaineKaine participates in Native American pow wow Sunday shows preview: Both sides gear up for debate Longtime Clinton aide Reines playing Trump in mock debates: reports MORE (D-Va.), have been encouraging a vote on a bill to authorize a broader military campaign. But the leadership has so far deferred, and it seems unlikely to push a vote ahead of the midterm elections.