GOP senators: Don’t tie Obama’s hands in fight against ISIS

Republicans senators say they will support authorizing military force against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) but warned that the language should not limit President Obama’s options for fighting the terror group.

“I would vote for a broad authorization allowing this president and our military to do what's necessary to degrade and destroy” ISIS, Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamSenate panel could pass new Russia sanctions this summer Overnight Cybersecurity: Bad Russian intel may have swayed Comey's handling of Clinton probe | Apple sees spike in data requests | More subpoenas for Flynn | DOJ's plan for data warrants Overnight Finance: GOP bill would leave 23M more uninsured, says CBO | Trump aides defend budget | Mnuchin asks for clean debt hike before August | Ryan says House could pass bill without border tax MORE (R-S.C.) told reporters late Wednesday.

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But if the language "ties the military in knots, forget about it,” he added.

“The idea of Congress managing military operations is a lousy idea,” Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, added. “If the Congress doesn't like what the president’s doing they can always cut off funding for any military operation.”

Graham’s comments come after Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) suggested Congress should bar any new funds for the anti-ISIS fight from being used for combat operations.

President Obama last week called on Congress to vote during the lame-duck session to give him authority to use military force against ISIS.

The administration is currently relying on the authorization for military force granted after the 9/11 terror attacks to go after al Qaeda and associated forces, but the president has said he welcomes a new measure targeted to ISIS.

Several members of Congress have proposed their own bills authorizing military force. Sen. Tim KaineTim KaineTim Kaine's son charged with misdemeanor after Trump rally incident Senators move to rein in Trump with new ISIS war bill Kaine: ‘Broken promises’ in Trump budget MORE (D-Va.) has proposed the most stringent measure which would prohibit the use of ground forces and sunset after one year.

Lawmakers are also split on when they should debate and vote on authorization.

Kaine has urged Congress to weigh in “right now,” during the lame duck.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and other Republican leaders though argue that any vote should wait until the next Congress is sworn in.

Congress is in session for roughly two workweeks before it recesses again on Dec. 12.

White House chief of staff Denis McDonough on Wednesday said the administration would like to see "progress" on an authorization during the lame duck session.

Sen. John McCainJohn McCainArmed Services chairman unveils .1B Asia-Pacific security bill Overnight Defense: Trump scolds NATO allies over spending | Flurry of leaks worries allies | Senators rip B Army 'debacle' | Lawmakers demand hearing on Saudi arms deal The case for protecting America's intelligence agency whistleblowers MORE (R-Ariz.) said he'd be glad to vote on authorizing force during the lame duck, but agreeing on the right measure could be a challenge.

"It would be very difficult to work it out. I would rather [wait], but if they want to move forward on it right now I'd be glad," he said Wednesday. He added that lawmakers had “been talking about it for a year.”

“It's a very complex situation because the commander in chief is the commander in chief, we don't want to circumscribe his authority but at the same time we want to authorize it, that's the careful balance,” according to McCain.

“If the president asks for it, we should be working on it,” he continued.

Graham chastised the administration for its strategy against ISIS to date.

“I don’t know what it is so it’d be hard to say it’s working. What is it in Syria? Where’s this mythical Arab army coming from?” he asked.

Obama last week announced plans to send 1,500 more U.S. troops to Iraq to advise local forces in the battle against ISIS militants, doubling the American presence to more than 3,000.

Graham said such an “incremental” approach is only making the terror group stronger and “more entrenched.”

“You’re going to be north of 10,000 if you want to get Iraq right and you’re going to have that same number at least in Syria,” he said.

The White House says those additional troops will not deploy until Congress approves funding for them.

Graham said he is “inclined” to approve the administrations’ request for $5.6 billion.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert MenendezRobert MenendezThe Mideast-focused Senate letter we need to see Taiwan deserves to participate in United Nations The way forward on the Iran nuclear deal under President Trump MORE (D-N.J.), said he was “in discussions with my colleagues about what an AUMF [authorization for military force] should look like."

“When I get the right circumstances in terms of commitments from people and where they want to proceed, that’s when I’ll proceed,” he told reporters.

Menendez did not lay out a timeline, calling it “open.”