Rep. Bruce BraleyBruce BraleyTen years later, House Dems reunite and look forward Trump: Ernst wanted 'more seasoning' before entertaining VP offer Criminal sentencing bill tests McConnell-Grassley relationship MORE, a Democrat from Iowa who is running for the Senate this year, has joined the growing list of lawmakers who suggest President Obama should seek approval from Congress for expanded military action in Iraq.
The Pentagon this week announced it would dispatch another 129 soldiers to Iraq, bringing the total number of troops in the country to roughly 1,000. In a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck HagelChuck HagelSenators tear into Marines on nude photo scandal Lobbying World Who will temper Trump after he takes office? MORE dated Aug. 14, Braley said he is troubled by the deployments.
In his letter, Braley asked Hagel a series of pointed questions, including the timetable for bringing the troops back to the U.S., the cost of the operation and when the DOD chief will seek congressional approval for operations in Iraq.
“Like you, I believe the current situation in Iraq is a challenging one. However, I do not believe the United States should engage in another long-term conflict in Iraq,” he said.
Braley is in a tight race against state Sen. Joni Ernst (R), a Lt. Colonel and battalion commander in the Iowa Army National Guard, for the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Tom HarkinTom HarkinGrassley challenger no stranger to defying odds Clinton ally stands between Sanders and chairmanship dream Do candidates care about our health or just how much it costs? MORE (D).
The winner of the race could decide which party controls the Senate next year.
Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby on Thursday said about 20 of the troops deployed this week were tapped to assess how the U.S. might help thousands of Yazidis stranded on Mt. Sinjar in northern Iraq. Fighters with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), an extremist Sunni Muslim group, had chased the Yazidis, a religious sect, from their villages.
Kirby said that, while the situation on the mountaintop is better than DOD officials initially believed, it is unclear how many of the soldiers would return to the U.S.
“Some of them will be redeploying outside of Iraq, and I suspect some of them may be staying to help augment our efforts in the joint operations center” in Erbil, Kirby said during a press briefing. He described the situation on the ground as “very fluid.”