President Obama’s proposed strategy to “take out” Islamic State terrorists is being backed by a bipartisan group of Kentucky and Indiana lawmakers.
Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth, who represents Louisville, said he supports the president’s efforts to destroy the group in Iraq and Syria.
“I support President Obama’s decision to expand the current airstrike campaign into Syria, and to work with an international coalition to degrade ISIL and reduce the threat they pose to that region and our interests,” he said. “I also support the president’s request that Congress provide resources to arm and train moderate Syrian forces.”
Yarmuth was first elected to Congress in 2006 as an anti-Iraq War candidate. The congressman made it clear while he backs the president using airstrikes to fight the Islamic State, he opposes a large scale ground operation in the region.
“However, I remain strongly opposed to the use of any combat troops on the ground in Syria and Iraq,” said Yarmuth.
Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who is a 2016 presidential hopeful, said he was “all in” for the U.S. taking on ISIL.
Paul has been wary of any interventions strategies previously, but he said on Fox News Wednesday he believes a broad coalition is needed.
“It is important not only for the American public, but for the world, and for the Islamic world, to point out this is not a true form of Islam,” said Paul. “This is an aberrant form that should not represent most of the civilized Islamic world.”
Immediately follow the president’s remarks, Paul said via Twitter that the U.S. “Constitution is very clear” that the power to declare war rests with Congress.
Obama, however, made it clear he believes he already has the authorization needed to conduct an offensive. The president said he welcomes support from U.S. lawmakers to “show the world that Americans are united in confronting this danger.”
Some lawmakers have said a vote authorizing the use of military force is needed while others argue it is not.
Speaking from the Senate floor Thursday, Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said Congress will work with the Obama administration to ensure U.S. military forces have the needed resources to carry out these missions.
Observers have noted McConnell’s reticence on whether Congress should take a war vote, but the GOP leader praised to president for putting a new focus against ISIL.
Other Republicans who have been critical of the president’s overall foreign policy in the past also heaped praise for the ISIL speech.
“The president’s speech was a sharp, welcome reversal to his previous comments on foreign policy,” said Sen. Dan Coats of Indiana in a news release. “He has finally grasped the true nature of the threat that ISIL poses, and his response to begin the process of taking down this so-called caliphate is welcome news.”
Coats is a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee and has been warning about the ISIL threat and the need for U.S. leadership for months.
Democrat Joe Donnelly of Indiana, who serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he agrees with the president’s strategy, especially engaging allies and countries in the Middle East.
“It is essential to addressing the threat of ISIS that Iraq’s leadership send a strong message of inclusion to Iraq’s religious and ethnic minorities,” Donnelly said in a news release. “Prime Minister Abadi must work swiftly to build an inclusive coalition government, as well as effective security partnerships with Sunni tribal groups to counter ISIS.”
Donnelly said he believes Obama has the authority to take the actions he outlined, but it would it be strengthened by seeking congressional authorization.
Update 6:54 p.m.: Young Responds
Republican Congressman Todd Young, who represents most of Southern Indiana, voiced caution at the administration’s counter-terrorism plans.
“While I appreciate that the president elaborated on his recent remarks about restoring stability to parts of the Middle East, many of us in Congress still require more details,” Young said in a released statement. “It is important to confront and defeat ISIS, but we shouldn’t rush into what could be a protracted military commitment without greater clarity of purpose and approach.”
Rank-and-file House GOP members have also shared their misgivings even as congressional leaders are embracing the strategy.
House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers, who represents eastern Kentucky, for instance, applauded the president’s address.
“The gruesome beheadings of two American journalists have escalated the concern of our entire nation and we must not underestimate the intentions of this terrorist group,” Rogers said in a released statement.
President Obama reportedly called Rogers seeking for funds for arming Syrian rebels to be included in a spending bill this week. The stop-gap measure has since been postponed until next week.