Dem bill would authorize US strikes in Syria

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) said Tuesday he is filing legislation that would give President Obama clear authority to order airstrikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

The move came after ISIS released a new video showing the purported beheading of a second American journalist, Steven Joel Sotloff, on Tuesday. 

“This will ensure there’s no question that the president has the legal authority he needs to use airstrikes in Syria,” Nelson, a senior member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a statement Tuesday. 

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“Let there be no doubt, we must go after ISIS right away because the U.S. is the only one that can put together a coalition to stop this group that’s intent on barbaric cruelty.”

Sotloff is the second American journalist beheaded by the extremist Islamist group that has taken over parts of Iraq and Syria. On Aug. 19, the group released a video that showed it had beheaded James Foley, who had been captured by the group in 2012. 

In that video, the group had threatened to behead Sotloff if the U.S. did not halt its airstrike campaign against ISIS in Iraq.

The White House said it's considering options to go after ISIS in Syria, including conducting airstrikes, but has not given any details. A senior administration official said Tuesday: "Because the President has not made a decision regarding the need for further military action, we would not want to comment on discussions over legislation. The Administration has been consulting closely with Congress regarding Syria, Iraq, and our efforts against ISIL, and moving forward we will continue those consultations."

A statement from Nelson's office said the new legislation would end whether the president had the authority to conduct airstrikes in Syria. 

Nelson plans to file his measure "as soon as he can after Congress returns next week," the statement said.  

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