An influential Senate Democrat called Monday for President Barack Obama to seek congressional approval before launching airstrikes against Islamic State militants in the Middle East. The call came after the White House refused to say whether it would await a congressional greenlight for further military action.
Last year, Obama asked Congress for permission to launch strikes against the Bashar al-Assad government in Syria. Now, with the Assad regime struggling against the IS militants who pose a threat to the U.S., bombing IS means de facto support of Assad.
In addition, military action in Syria, in addition to the U.S. strikes that have already taken place in northern Iraq, would represent a dramatic escalation of force in the region.
“I am calling for the mission and objectives for this current significant military action against [the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria] to be made clear to Congress, the American people, and our men and women in uniform,” Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) said in a statement. “And Congress should vote up or down on it.”
Kaine said that the administration should provide a clear plan to react to the IS threat and consult lawmakers.
But the White House has been hesitant to commit to congressional authorization. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Monday that Obama is “committed to coordinating and consulting with Congress” but will act on his own if he feels the need.