White House presses GOP on ISIS

White House presses GOP on ISIS
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The White House is pushing congressional Republicans to formally authorize military action against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and institute new rules to prevent terrorism in the United States. 

The press comes in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks after President Obama faced criticism for his strategy in dealing with ISIS, and as Democrats in Congress have come under pressure from Republicans over the administration’s plan to resettle Syrian refugees in the United States.

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Speaking in Paris, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Monday that Congress needs to implement a series or proposals rather than engage in politically motivated posturing that is “wrong, dangerous and falls far short of what the America people deserve.” 

Earnest said Congress should also fully fund an aviation security proposal in a budget deal, confirm a counterterrorism financing chief for the Treasury Department and institute a law banning people on the no-fly list from buying guns.

He criticized the GOP-led Congress for failing to approve an Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) against the terror group, suggesting the GOP House and Senate had shirked its responsibility.

“For more than a year, Congress has been AWOL on their responsibility to pass an Authorization for the Use of Military Force, which would demonstrate to our allies and to our enemies that the U.S. is united in its efforts to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL,” Earnest told reporters, using an alternative acronym for the terror group.

The comments from Earnest, coupled with a separate announcement that visa rules for tourists entering the United States from many countries will be tightened, signals a more aggressive approach from the White House in the debate over ISIS.

Republicans have criticized the Obama administration’s strategy of airstrikes against ISIS, and they’ve said the U.S. needs to clamp down on the amount of Syrian refugees it accepts until they can be deemed to not be terror threats.

Earnest said Monday that, in addition to approving an AUMF, Congress should pass legislation to strengthen the Visa Waiver Program. 

Earnest acknowledged that authorizing force against ISIS will take Congress more than the three weeks it plans to be in session before breaking for the holidays, but he pushed them to begin working toward that in light of the Paris attacks.

“This effort is serious, and should be the focus of serious debate,” Earnest said. “It will take more than three weeks to pass an AUMF, but Congress, in each of these cases, must stop using the fact that these issues are difficult as an excuse for doing nothing.”