WASHINGTON — House Speaker John Boehner said Tuesday it will be “virtually impossible” for Congress to approve President Barack Obama’s proposed authority for military force against Islamic State militants.
In a meeting with a handful of reporters, the Republican leader said Obama’s proposal for new authority is stalled months after Obama requested a three-year authority that bans “enduring offensive combat operations” for U.S. troops.
Boehner said it made no sense for Congress to give the president less authority than he already has to combat Islamic extremists, who have captured parts of Iraq and Syria.
“Until the president gets serious, there’s no reason to give him less authority,” Boehner said.
Congress has held several hearings on Obama’s request, issued in February, but the authority has languished.
Boehner, who recently led a congressional delegation to the Middle East, said he wants U.S. forces in Iraq to have a larger role in planning and directing Iraqis trying to combat the Islamic militants. He stopped short of saying the U.S. should send more than the 4,500 troops in the region.
Boehner expressed frustration with the administration’s strategy, saying he repeatedly heard two questions from U.S. allies — where’s America headed or is America abandoning us.
He echoed the administration contention that Syrian President Bashar Assad has to go after years of civil war. Boehner maintained that Islamic State militants are a more serious concern than Assad.
“His power base continues to shrink,” Boehner said.
DONNA CASSATA, Associated Press