Sanders: Obama has authority for airstrikes but not ground troops

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersFive things to watch in Tuesday's primaries Nina Turner responds to Cornel West's remarks about George Floyd COVID-19 pandemic will shrink economy by trillion in next decade: CBO MORE (I-Vt.) said President Obama has authority for airstrikes targeting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria but not to send in combat troops lawmakers’ approval.

“I believe that Congress must become increasingly engaged in the Iraq-Syria crisis.  It is my understanding that the president does have the executive power to launch air strikes,” Sanders said in a statement Monday. “He does not have the power to send combat troops into harm’s way without congressional authorization.”

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His statements come as President Obama is set to unveil his strategy against ISIS in an address on Wednesday and with House and Senate lawmakers already offering legislation to authorize the use of military force.

Obama will meet with congressional leaders on Tuesday as administration officials also brief lawmakers. 

It is not clear, though, if lawmakers will actually vote on the measures with only two weeks in session before their attention turns to November’s midterms.

Sanders said he is opposed to sending U.S. combat troops back into Iraq or to Syria. 

“As someone who voted against the military action in Iraq in the first place, I continue to be very strongly opposed to sending combat troops back into Iraq or to Syria," he said in a statement Monday. 

The president has repeatedly said no U.S. ground combat troops would be sent to either Iraq or Syria. However, he has authorized the deployment of 1,125 U.S. troops to Iraq, for diplomatic security and to advise Iraqi forces.  

Sanders also applauded the president for building an international coalition to go after ISIS politically and militarily. 

“The situation in the Middle East is complex, volatile and fraught with danger.  ISIS is a fanatical and brutal organization which is a danger to the region and the world,” he said.

 “This, clearly, is not just an American problem.”