WASHINGTON--President Obama's authorization of airstrikes in Iraq has bipartisan support in Congress, but there is a tension between lawmakers who believe the administration needs to do more to contain Islamic militants and those who do not see ongoing U.S. military action as the answer to the region's unrest.
"The president's authorization of airstrikes is appropriate, but like many Americans, I am dismayed by the ongoing absence of a strategy for countering the grave threat ISIS poses to the region," House Speaker John Boehner said in a Friday statement.
Boehner said the White House needs a "long-term strategy" to address the threat. "If the president is willing to put forward such a strategy, I am ready to listen and work with him," he said.
"The current crisis in Iraq is symptomatic of this Administration's willingness to defy the reality that terrorism is metastasizing throughout Northern Africa and the Middle East," said Homeland Security Committee Chairman Rep. Mike McCaul, R-Texas, in a statement voicing support for the air strikes. McCaul called for continued targeted military airstrikes to "wherever these terrorists are training and fighting" as well as the need for "political reconciliation" between Iraqi factions.
GOP Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina — two of the GOP's most prominent defense hawks — also voiced support for the strikes but said they are "far from sufficient" to contain ISIS. "It is inherently expansionist and must be stopped," they said of the radical group, "The longer we wait to act, the worse this threat will become, as recent events clearly show."
The senators called for continued U.S. airstrikes not only in Iraq, but also in Syria, where ISIS has an imprint. "If ever there were a time to reevaluate our disastrous policy in the Middle East, this is it," they said.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., a long-time opponent of the war in Iraq, voiced support for the airstrikes based on humanitarian needs of the religious minorities facing persecution. However, Pelosi voiced a wariness felt among many in Congress who are skeptical of continued U.S. military intervention, and suggested there would be little support for putting U.S. troops back on the ground.
"There is no American military solution to the situation in Iraq," she said, adding that defeating ISIS is contingent on Iraq's leaders.