Rand Paul: No boots on the ground in Iraq without Congress

President Obama should seek approval from Congress before ramping up American military involvement in Iraq, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said Wednesday.



Although Paul is known for being skeptical of U.S. military engagement abroad, he endorsed limited military action in Iraq during an interview Tuesday with a local news station.

“With regard to Iraq, I have an open mind as to exactly what we do," Paul said. "I think aiding [Iraq Prime Minister Nouri] al-Maliki not out of the question, or whatever the new government might be," he told the station after a luncheon in Louisville.

"Airdrops of food, and particularly strategic bombing to prevent ISIS from taking over the country," he said.

But he added that military action should not be taken "unilaterally by a president."

"When he ran for office, he said no president should unilaterally go to war without the approval of Congress unless we're in imminent danger," Paul said.

"So really I'd like President Obama to go back and meet candidate Obama and see if they can come to an agreement."

Paul joins a growing number of lawmakers calling on the president to seek congressional authorization for action in Iraq when lawmakers return from recess in September.

The White House is considering further military options for rescuing tens of thousands of members of a minority Iraqi religious sect known as the Yazidis stranded on Mount Sinjar, where they were chased by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

As part of those rescue efforts, the president ordered 130 U.S. troops to Erbil on Tuesday to assess options for evacuating the Yazidis.

A White House senior official did not rule out having troops on the ground as part of force protection for the rescue, but stressed Wednesday that they would not "engage in combat."

"The purpose and the mission that they are going to Iraq for is not to engage in combat," said Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser for strategic communications.

"This is to make an assessment on a temporary basis about how we move that population off the mountain into a safe place," he said.