Leading lawmakers in charge of foreign policy reacted Tuesday to the reported beheading of American journalist Steven Sotloff by increasing their calls for more congressional involvement and oversight of President Obama’s war on ISIS.
The latest apparent ISIS atrocity against an American citizen added to the congressional anger at the Obama administration for what many critics call an incomplete and unclear plan to confront the group both in Iraq and Syria, following President Obama’s admission last week that “We don’t have a strategy yet” for dealing with ISIS in Iraq and Syria. The two leaders of the House Foreign Affairs Committee said Tuesday that they want to lead the charge for more congressional oversight by holding hearings and forcing a vote on Obama’s ISIS war within 60 days of the commencement of airstrikes in Iraq last month.
“The beheading of poor Mr. Sotloff really just brings back that we are dealing with a dangerous adversary…Congress needs to play a vital role and we are determined that the House Foreign Affairs Committee will lead the way,” said Rep. Eliot Engel, ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “We believe that before the president can continue beyond 60 days of doing airstrikes in Iraq or anyplace else, he would have to come to Congress and get Congress’s authority to continue.”
Engel and the committee’s chairman, Rep. Ed Royce, spoke to reporters via conference call from Israel on Tuesday. Royce said Secretary of State John Kerry, who will travel to the region this week, must come before Congress and present a strategy for defeating ISIS and put it up for a vote by the beginning of next month.
“We are scheduling a hearing upon our return and requesting the secretary of state to present a plan, a strategy focused on rolling back ISIS, defeating ISIS through the use of airstrikes and the support of those with common interests,” Royce said. “We anticipate there will be a vote on authorization of the use of force for such a plan. That would come within the 60-day window.”