Obama's Request for Authorization Stalls, But War in Iraq and Syria Marches On
White House pleads for Congress to grant war-making powers, as bombs continue to fall on Syria and Iraq
The Obama administration appears to be growing increasingly frustrated as its request for congressional authorization for its war in Iraq and Syria stalls on Capitol Hill amid continued criticism from foreign policy experts and grassroots activists.
However, the political roadblocks appear to be having little impact on the war itself, which is stretching into its eighth month, including at least 15 airstrikes from the U.S.-led coalition on Tuesday and Wednesday alone.
At a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Wednesday, White House officials pleaded for rapid approval of the controversial Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) in the war on ISIS, which would approve geographically limitless war, broadly define the "enemy," permit deployments of ground combat troops, and leave the widely-opposed 2001 AUMF intact.
The proposal appears to be floundering, with hawks charging its powers are not extensive enough and some Democratic lawmakers calling for greater limits. Meanwhile, grassroots groups are pressing for rejection of the war altogether, charging there is no U.S. military solution to the humanitarian crisis gripping Iraq, Syria, and beyond.
Senior Obama administration officials, for their part, signaled concern with the lack of political backing.
Defense Secretary Ashton Carter urged Congress on Wednesday to rapidly approve the AUMF, claiming that ISIS "already shows signs of metastasizing outside of Syria and Iraq." His comments come amid reports that the U.S. strategy in the ISIS war is failing on its own terms.
Secretary of State John Kerry, further, urged Congress to show that it backs the war with a "single, powerful voice."
In making their case, these senior officials revealed, when it comes to the proposal's murky terms, they advocate for expansive interpretation.
Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said that, despite the White House's attempts to sell the legislation, major disagreements remain, and he does not hold out high hopes for bipartisan backing.
However, it is not clear what ultimate bearing this political stalemate will have on the current military operations.
As Corker told reporters, "The fact that this operation's been going on for a long, long time points to the fact that nothing regarding the AUMF is going to affect what’s happening on the ground at present."