House Dem: Congress should authorize Iraq strikes — once they get back to work
© Greg Nash

Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) said Friday that Congress should formally authorize the airstrikes on Iraq if they are still ongoing when lawmakers return in September.

"The president is acting according to the powers of his office — and Congress must do the same," McGovern said. "If these operations are continuing when Congress returns in September, then Congress needs to take action to authorize them."

Earlier Friday, the U.S. conducted its first airstrikes against ISIS near the Kurdish regional capital of Erbil.

Last month, the House voted 370-40 on a resolution sponsored by McGovern that would require Congress to authorize future sustained combat troops in Iraq.

McGovern warned that launching airstrikes against Sunni militant group ISIS could lead to a slippery slope of the U.S. becoming involved in Iraq's civil war. 

"When we bomb ISIS, which is a horrible group, we have to realize that we are heading down the path of choosing sides in an ancient religious and sectarian war inside Iraq," McGovern said.  

The Massachusetts Democrat said the U.S. airstrikes went beyond the drops of humanitarian aid of water and food supplies to persecuted religious minorities trapped at the top of an Iraq mountain.

"While choosing sides may be something Congress decides that it wants to support, it goes beyond the humanitarian mission of providing relief to civilians stranded on a mountain in imminent danger of dying of hunger and thirst," McGovern said.