White House rips ‘idle chatter’ from Congress on war powers

The White House on Friday slammed Congress as engaging in “idle chatter” on a new war authorization to fight the Islamic State in Iraq in Syria (ISIS).

White House press secretary Josh Earnest chastised lawmakers for failing to act on President Obama’s use of force request, even as ISIS militants make gains in Iraq and Syria.

{mosads}“Their job requires basically only fulfilling the bare minimum,” Earnest told reporters. “When it comes to our national security, something they say is so important to our country, it’s time for them to not just pay lip service but to actually follow through with some action.”

The White House has expressed increasing frustration with Congress’s stalled effort to pass a authorization for use of military force (AUMF), nine months after the U.S. launched a military campaign against ISIS.

Obama submitted a draft request to Capitol Hill in February, but members in both parties have rejected it.

The plan would last three years and replace the 2002 authorization for the Iraq War, but leave intact the 2001 war authorization the administration is using to justify its current campaign.

The new authorization would apply to ISIS forces and their affiliates but would ban U.S. forces from “enduring offensive ground operations.”

Republican lawmakers have said the request places too many limitations on the military’s effort to combat ISIS, while Democrats worry it could open the door to another expansive war in the Middle East.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said last week the president should scrap his request to Congress and submit a new one that contains a more aggressive strategy. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) has said Obama’s plan would have little impact on the military campaign.

Even Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he doesn’t think the president needs a new AUMF, saying he already has the authority to continue the U.S. mission against the extremist group.

But Earnest said those criticisms miss the point. A new war powers act against ISIS would signal that “the country is united around president’s strategy.”

The spokesman said the White House draft was intended as a “starting point” in negotiations, accusing lawmakers of being reluctant to engage.

“The administration has demonstrated a clear willingness to engage in this discussion,” Earnest said. “Yet, all we’ve seen from Congress is some idle chatter, surely our campaign against ISIS deserves more than that.”

Boehner’s office questioned the White House’s desire to broker a deal with Congress.

“The president’s ISIL strategy is in shambles and the White House is blaming everyone but itself,” said Boehner spokesman Cory Fritz, using another acronym for the group. “It’s unconscionable that the administration continues to stand by a plan that undermines America’s ability to win this fight.”  

Tags Bob Corker Boehner Harry Reid John Boehner

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