McKeon challenges Obama to consult Congress on ISIS

Congress should not give President Obama additional authority to combat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) until the administration provides a strategy for defeating the militant group, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) said Wednesday.

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“ISIS is a clear and present threat to our allies across the Middle East and to the United States. There is no negotiating with ISIS or deterring it,” he said in a statement.

“It must be defeated and destroyed.”

Doing that would demand a “comprehensive strategy” combining diplomatic, political and military efforts and assistance from allied nations, he added.

“This comprehensive approach may well require additional authorities from Congress, but speculation about that before the president has even offered a strategy is putting the cart before the horse,” the outgoing lawmaker said.

Obama must “explain to the American people what is at stake, what our objectives are, and the strategy for how to achieve them. Only after we understand all this can we contemplate what new authorities might be needed,” McKeon said.

“I challenge the president to engage Congress,” he said.

To date, Obama has only authorized military airstrikes against ISIS fighters in Iraq. He has reportedly approved surveillance flights over Syria, however, to gauge the group’s capabilities and assets there, a possible precursor to more attacks.

McKeon said he is willing to work with Obama on fighting ISIS, provided the president keeps a “few factors” in mind.

He said “pinprick strikes that leave fragile forces in Iraq and Syria to do the hard fighting” are insufficient and that any good strategies “keep options on the table and keep an adversary guessing, instead of telegraphing what we won’t do.”

In addition, McKeon said ISIS is not likely to be defeated soon since it was “allowed to build and fester over a period of time,” adding that the group would not only be fought by Obama but also by his successors.

“Therefore, strategy and decisions made by the president now should preserve future options, not foreclose them,” McKeon said.

McKeon also called on the president to “adequately resource” the effort or “we will only make a very complex security situation worse.”

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