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Reid: Obama has authority to strike ISIS

Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidSenate holds two-hour Biden lovefest Dem senator threatens to slow-walk spending bill The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (D-Nev.) said Wednesday that President Obama does not need additional authority from lawmakers to strike the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Reid, however, said Congress should pass “Title X” authority, which would allow the administration to train and equip more moderate rebels in Syria who could undermine the influence of ISIS.

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“As commander in chief, the president has the authority he needs now to act against ISIS. I believe the vast majority of members of Congress agree with that. For now, it’s critical we support our commander in chief,” he said on the Senate floor.  

Reid’s comments confirm that he is not inclined to schedule a vote this month to authorize combat operations against Sunni militants who have rampaged across Iraq and Syria.

Senate Democrats in tough reelection races had balked at voting on a new use-of-force resolution only a few weeks before the midterm election.

The last Iraq use-of-force measure, passed in 2002, led to a protracted military campaign that resulted in the deaths of thousands of Americans and proved highly unpopular among registered Democrats.  

Reid said Congress’s appropriate role is to give Obama authority to train and equip moderate rebels who might be able to draw public support in the region away from ISIS.

“It’s clear to me that we need to train and equip Syrian rebels and other groups in the Middle East that need some help. It’s called 'Title X' authority. The president has tried to get that from us, and we should give it to him,” he said.