The White House is expected to send a resolution to Congress on Tuesday, requesting the clearance to use military force against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.
According to Reuters, the Obama administration’s “failure so far to seek a formal Authorization to Use Military Force for the campaign” has left some members of Congress concerned that it “overstepped the president’s constitutional authority.”
The Associated Press noted that so far Obama has relied on the resolution Congress passed in 2002, authorizing President George W. Bush to use force against Iraq, which is something “scores of Democrats have regretted” and something Obama “used as a cudgel against his rivals to win the Democratic presidential nomination.”
Representative Chris Van Hollen, a Democrat from Maryland, said that he and his fellow Democrats were not going to just write Obama a “blank-check.”
“Some want to give the executive a blank-check, and there are others, including me, who want to limit the war-making authority, especially with U.S. ground combat forces,” said Van Hollen. “Will it narrow it to Iraq and Syria, or allow operations in other countries?”
Senator Orrin Hatch, a Republican from Utah, said he disagreed with anyone who wanted to limit the use of ground troops or to put an expiration date on authorization.
“Most importantly, the authorization should not impose any artificial and unnecessary limitations such as those based on time, geography and type of force that could interfere with our strategic objective of defeating Islamic State,” Hatch said.
Senator Brian Schatz, a Democrat from Hawaii, said that although he has been “clear in opposition to boot on the ground,” he does want to see what the White House has proposed.
“It’s traditional and expected for an administration to articulate their strategy to the Congress, so we want to give them a chance to do so,” Schatz said.
According to Reuters, the leader of the House of Representatives’ Democrats, Nancy Pelosi, released a statement last week saying the White House “would seek an authorization that would last three years,” but has not decided on “the geographic scope of an authorization or what limits would be placed on combat troops.”
Although the United States began carrying out airstrikes against ISIS in August, Obama has said that he will not authorize the use of ground troops to fight ISIS, and he will instead rely on a coalition that includes Iraqi forces and Syrian rebels on the ground.
Obama’s strategy regarding ISIS has been criticized by U.S. officials, such as former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who said he finds Obama’s resolve to completely destroy ISIS, both “unrealistic” and “unattainable,” and that instead of being pre-occupied with “today’s crisis,” the United States should be looking at its long-term strategy in the Middle East.