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Coalition at Home and Abroad

September 29, 2014
Weekly Columns

As details continue to unfold about the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), we remain united in the belief that this terrorist group cannot be allowed to further expand or establish an Islamic caliphate. ISIL represents a clear and present danger to the safety and security of the United States. Knowing the violence of which this group is capable, including the brutal murders of two American journalists, the United States and our Allies understand that we must combat this enemy urgently and with resolve.

Since the president addressed the nation and explained his strategy for destroying ISIL, I am pleased that he turned words into action. By ordering of U.S. air strikes in Syria and Iraq to target ISIL strongholds and building a coalition with Arab allies in the region, the president has shown American strength, resolve and determination at a critical time when both our friends and enemies needed to see it. 

In the days ahead, it is critical that we remain ready and well-equipped to fight the threat posed by ISIL and other terrorist groups. Regardless of where the threat exists, the president should not rule out any options or tactics for fighting terrorism. Instead, his highest priority should always be preserving and protecting Americans, both at home and abroad. 

While the president has said he welcomes congressional support for the current U.S. intervention against ISIL, he hasn’t asked lawmakers for it or proposed anything beyond authorization to arm and train Syrian rebels. During consideration of the continuing resolution, Congress passed an amendment that gives the president that authority, but it did not authorize the current air strikes in Syria and Iraq. 

In response, I joined with Congressman Jim McGovern in sending a bipartisan letter to House leadership that recommends lawmakers debate and vote on the president’s current use of military force. Beyond the tools that were recently authorized for the Free Syrian Army, I do not believe that the president can or should be ordering air strikes without congressional approval. I believe that it is most appropriate and better for the president to respect the constitutionally given war-making power of Congress, working with lawmakers to fight the enemy before us and the threat of others.

The United States is engaged in war in and around Syria. Just as the president has built a coalition abroad, I hope that he will work to build a similar bipartisan coalition with lawmakers in both chambers of Congress. I hope Congress will debate and vote on this as early as possible, allowing our own citizens and the rest of the world to see a truly United States.