Obama touts 'balanced' approach in ISIS war powers request

Obama touts 'balanced' approach in ISIS war powers request
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President Obama said Wednesday he was optimistic that his draft proposal asking Congress to authorizing the use of military force against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) will win bipartisan support.
 
"This resolution strikes the necessary balance by giving us the flexibility we need for unforeseen circumstances," Obama said in an address from the White House, flanked by Vice President Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.
 
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Obama argued that the bill would help define the combat mission against the terror group, and pitched its passage as an important signal of unity from Washington.
 
"Our coalition is on the offensive, ISIL is on the defensive, and ISIL is going to lose," Obama said, using an alternative acronym for the group.
 
But Obama's proposed legislation, submitted earlier Wednesday, has met with early skepticism on Capitol Hill. 
 
Democrats have expressed concern the legislation does too little to limit the White House from committing ground troops to battle ISIS, while Republicans are worried it could handcuff the military.
 
Obama's proposal would authorize the use of military force against ISIS or any splinter groups irrespective of location for the next three years, and would repeal the 2002 legislation authorizing the invasion of Iraq. It would also prohibit the use of  “enduring offensive ground combat operations.”
 
The president said the bill codified his conviction that the U.S. "should not get dragged back into another prolonged ground war in the Middle East."
 
"The resolution we’ve submitted today does not call for the deployment of U.S. ground combat forces to Iraq or Syria," Obama said. "It is not the authorization of another ground war, like Afghanistan or Iraq."
 
White House aides said Wednesday that language was intentionally ambiguous, so as not to place "overly burdensome constraints" on the president.
 
It's likely the phrasing is also intended to help the White House win bipartisan support for the initiative, though the early signs Wednesday were that Obama faced a significant challenge.
 
Officials said the language was the result of intensive negotiations with Capitol Hill, but also cautioned that the draft proposal was seen as a starting point.
 
Obama said that in the crafting of the resolution, the White House had "consulted with and listened to both Republicans and Democrats." He added that the legislation "can grow even stronger with the thoughtful and dignified debate it deserves in Congress."
 
White House officials have swarmed Capitol Hill to promote the proposal, with White House counsel Neil Eggleston meeting Wednesday morning with House Democrats. Lawmakers said they largely pressed the president's lawyer about tightening the language to further guarantee that ground troops would not be sent into battle.
 
Administration aides also met with top GOP lawmakers, and Senate Republicans were set to discuss the proposal Wednesday evening.