Rubio: Obama already has the authority to strike ISIS in Syria

Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioApple under pressure to unlock Pensacola shooter's phones Senators offer bill to create alternatives to Huawei in 5G tech Surging Sanders draws fresh scrutiny ahead of debate MORE (R-Fla.) says President Obama does not need authorization from Congress to launch airstrikes in Syria against the terrorist group that beheaded two American journalists. 

Rubio said the president should expand U.S. airstrikes to Syria to "degrade and defeat" the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which he said poses an immediate threat to national security. 


"Just as the U.S. has conducted operations against terrorists elsewhere, there is no legal reason preventing you from targeting ISIL in Syria," Rubio wrote in a letter sent to the president Friday, using an alternate acronym for the group.

Rubio's position is at odds with Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulGOP threatens to weaponize impeachment witnesses amid standoff Paul predicts no Republicans will vote to convict Trump Graham on impeachment trial: 'End this crap as quickly as possible' MORE (R-Ky.), another potential GOP presidential candidate.

Paul too has said he supports expanding airstrikes to Syria, but chastised the president for circumventing the Constitution by not debating military action through Congress. 

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and others have said it is "questionable" whether the president has the authority to target the group in Syria. 

Rubio criticized the president for not outlining a strategy to combat ISIS in "clear and unequivocal terms.” 

He called for the administration to build an international coalition to increase military pressure against ISIS and boost arms supplied to Kurdish forces in Iraq and moderate rebel forces in Syria. 

"In addition to striking ISIL abroad, there must be a renewed and heightened effort to secure the homeland as well," he said.

Obama issued a forceful statement against ISIS at a NATO summit Friday, saying the United States and other allies would hunt down and defeat the group similar to al Qaeda affiliates. 

"[The American people] need to hear the truth about ISIL, the threat they represent, and the sacrifice and combined effort that will be needed to defeat them," Rubio wrote in the letter.