Issa: My Resolution Requires Obama to 'Promptly Communicate' Plan to Combat ISIL

September 4, 2014 - 11:54 PM

Darrell Issa

House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

(CNSNews.com) – Congress’ summer recess ends on Monday and lawmakers plan to waste no time in challenging the administration over its approach to the threat posed by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS/ISIL).

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) intends to introduce a joint resolution on Monday requiring President Obama to present a strategic plan to “defeat” ISIS, and creating a short-term authorization for the use of force to achieve that goal.

A day later Secretary of State John Kerry will face the House Foreign Affairs Committee to answer questions about how the administration plans to deal with ISIS.

“This president has clearly stated that he does not have a plan to deal with the growing terrorist threat from ISIL,” Issa said Thursday. “We cannot sit idly by as ISIL continues to target and brutally murder Americans while threatening U.S. interests and those of our allies. My resolution requires the president to promptly communicate a clear and concise plan to combat ISIL.”

On August 7, Obama informed Congress he was authorizing airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq, under the War Powers Resolution. That 1973 law allows the president to commit armed forces to military action, in the absence of a declaration of war, for 60 days.

(The 60-day period, which expires on Oct. 7, may be increased by 30 days if the president certifies to Congress “that unavoidable military necessity respecting the safety of United States Armed Forces requires the continued use of such armed forces in the course of bringing about a prompt removal of such forces.”)

The resolution Issa will introduce will require Obama to present to Congress a comprehensive strategy to “stabilize the region and defeat the ISIL threat,” he said.

It will provide Obama with a 120-day authorization to use military force against ISIS, to protect American interests and prevent the group’s further expansion.

“It’s time, Mr. President, to choose action over inaction, to execute a plan over rhetoric, and to protect American interests,” he said. “The defeat of ISIL must be a top priority.”

APTOPIX Kerry

Secretary of State Kerry is due to testify on Capitol Hillon Tuesday, September 9, 2014, on the administration's response to ISIS. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

‘Mixed messages’

House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) said Thursday that Kerry will testify before the committee on Tuesday on the administration’s response to ISIS.

“The president said his administration had no strategy against ISIS two weeks ago, despite it long being on the march,” he said. “The administration is sending mixed messages now.  ISIS is a serious threat to U.S. national security. The committee needs to hear a comprehensive strategy from Secretary Kerry on how the administration is going to confront this brutal and sophisticated terrorist group.”

The threat posed by ISIS to the region and potentially the West is featuring prominently at a NATO summit in Newport, Wales, and on Friday announcements are expected from the gathering on a response to the crisis.

Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron are leading efforts to build a coalition to tackle ISIS. Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and national security advisor Susan Rice are also discussing the issue with their counterparts at the summit, deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes said Thursday evening.

Obama has been criticized for saying on August 28 that “we don’t have a strategy yet” for tackling ISIS in Syria – as opposed to in Iraq, where airstrikes continue – but during a visit to Estonia Wednesday before arriving in Wales, Obama reiterated that his objective was to “destroy” ISIS.

Obama Estonia

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference with Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves in Tallinn on Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Minutes later, however, he appeared to scale back that ambition, speaking of acting against ISIS so that it “is degraded to the point where it is no longer the kind of factor that we’ve seen it being over the last several months.”

“We know that if we are joined by the international community, we can continue to shrink ISIL’s sphere of influence, its effectiveness, its financing, its military capabilities to the point where it is a manageable problem,” he said.

The notion of managing the threat drew further flak, not just from Republicans.

In a Twitter post that contrasted Obama’s choice of words with Vice-President Joe Biden’s remarks about ISIS the same day, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) commented: “Do not believe ISIL is ‘manageable,’ agree these terrorists must be chased to the ‘gates of hell.’

Shaheen will join Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) early next week introducing a bipartisan resolution condemning ISIS and honoring the lives of U.S. journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, both beheaded by the terrorist group in Syria in recent weeks.

“The American people should also never lose sight of the fact that these awful executions are only the beginning of ISIL’s plans to sow evil across the Middle East and the world, unless we stop them,” Rubio said Thursday.

“ISIS must be stopped, and we as a nation must lead an international effort to end the threat they pose to American citizens, our national security and people around the world,” said Shaheen.

Ayotte said the U.S. must “lead an international coalition dedicated to the defeat of ISIS without delay,” while Nelson said the fight must be taken to the terrorist group, “not only in Iraq but in Syria as well.”