The U.S. mission in Iraq has “broadened” into something that “certainly looks like war,” says the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.

What started as a mission to protect Americans and ease a humanitarian crisis has expanded to protecting Iraqi infrastructure such as the Mosul Dam, Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffParis Hilton takes to Capitol Hill to advocate for troubled teen care reform Jan. 6 panel votes to hold Bannon in contempt Press: Steve Bannon behind bars in Capitol basement? MORE (D-Calif.) said Tuesday evening in an interview on MSNBC.

"It's a very treacherous and slippery slope," Schiff said of talk of a "long-term, strategic plan" to aid Iraqis and defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).


"We may not have declared it a war but when we're dropping bombs and they're apparently beheading our citizens it certainly looks like war," Schiff said, referring to a video released Wednesday showing ISIS decapitating the journalist James Foley.

President Obama authorized U.S. airstrikes in Iraq earlier this month to help members of the Yazidi religious sect who were at risk of being slaughtered by ISIS.

On Sunday, Obama sent a letter to Congress notifying lawmakers that he had authorized dozens of more airstrikes over the weekend to help Iraqi forces and Kurdish fighters retake the Mosul Dam, a critical piece of infrastructure in the country.

"We have a mission that is expanding. We ought to have a real debate — dialogue — about authorizing the president to do what he's doing," Schiff said. 

Schiff said Obama will likely continue to make authorizations under his Article II power, but said it was "more constitutionally sound and better governance" to include Congress in the process.

The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), said Wednesday on Fox News that Obama should return to Washington from his vacation in Martha's Vineyard to deal with ISIS.