By Martin Matishak - 09/08/14 05:55 PM EDT
Sen. Bill NelsonBill NelsonCongress prepping short-term FAA bill Overnight Finance: McConnell tees up Puerto Rico vote | Britain's credit rating slashed | Clinton vows to appoint trade prosecutor McConnell tees up House Puerto Rico bill MORE (D-Fla.) on Monday expressed doubt that lawmakers would take up his bill authorizing military action against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) before Congress adjourns again.
“We’re going to get a vote sooner or later, I just don’t know if it’s going to be in the next week and a half,” Nelson told reporters immediately after speaking in favor of the measure on the Senate floor. “But sooner or later there will be a vote.”
The “important thing at the end of the day is to give the president unquestioned legal authority to go after them in Syria, which is where most of them are,” according to Nelson, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Nelson’s bill would give President Obama congressional approval to order airstrikes against ISIS in both Iraq and Syria, but it caps the authority to three years. The measure also prohibits the president from deploying ground troops.
The proposed measure, along with one by Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), marks the first congressional action taken on authorizing the president's use of force against ISIS since lawmakers returned from the five-week August recess.
House and Senate lawmakers will receive briefings from administration and intelligence officials later this week, while the president is due to unveil his strategy for combating ISIS on Wednesday.
Nelson stressed that while he believes Obama already has all the authority he needs to take on the group “there are some legal scholars who think otherwise, so let’s just put it to rest.”
He said the U.S. should tap its intelligence assets, including the NSA, to mitigate the threat of individuals with Western passports who have fought alongside the group from returning to their home countries to carry out attacks.
“What we want to do is we want to have success at the end of the day,” Nelson told reporters, saying lawmakers believe about 100 Americans have joined the group’s cause.
While ISIS is “probably not” an immediate threat to the U.S. homeland, “any group that sets them up as a religious caliphate and says that they will not stop until the black flag of ISIS is flying over the White House — I take that pretty seriously,” he said.