Van Hollen: No approval needed for airstrikes

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) on Wednesday said President Obama does not need approval from Congress for the limited U.S. airstrikes taking place in Iraq.

"Well, I don't think congressional approval is needed for the type of targeted airstrikes the president's conducting right now," he said on MSNBC. 

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The ranking Budget Committee member was pushing back on the assertion raised by Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) a day earlier. 

Like a number of other Democratic leaders, Van Hollen said Obama "would want to come back to Congress" if the mission expanded, which the congressman said he doubts. 

He noted that the president has already consulted with Congress about the strikes targeting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, which has taken over parts of the country.  

"I think the president has also been very clear he's not going to do a whole lot more," he said. "We're not talking about boots on the ground. And he is going to consult with Congress."

On Tuesday, Kaine said the administration needs to get approval from Congress for the current campaign, noting that he introduced legislation in January to clarify the War Powers Act. 

Though the administration has said it would like to update the 2002 Iraq Authorization of Use of Military Force, it remains in effect. 

"There's a distinction here between what the president can do and what he should do," Van Hollen said. "The authorization to use force in Iraq is still in effect, in place. A lot of us have been trying to repeal it or scale it back. So the president could do a lot more than he's doing, legally."

The United States began airstrikes last week to protect U.S. personnel in Iraq and to help protect members of the Yazidi minority from genocide. 

The Pentagon sent another 130 advisers to the country on Tuesday to help with humanitarian relief options for the civilians.