President Barack Obama told senior congressional leaders that he does not need their approval to carry out any action he deems necessary in Iraq, according to Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
McConnell addressed the media after his meeting with Obama and senior congressional leaders on Wednesday. McConnell said that Obama “basically just briefed us on the situation in Iraq and indicated he didn’t feel he had any need for authority from us for steps that he might take.”
The White House said Obama met with congressional leaders to discuss efforts to “strengthen the capacity of Iraq’s security forces to confront the threat” coming from ISIS, “including options for increased security assistance.”
Obama “did not give us an array of actions he was planning to take. He just talked about his perspective on what was happening there,” said former Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey said of the ongoing conflict in Iraq, specifically regarding ISIS, “Although currently a regional threat, they do have aspirations to attack Western interests.” Dempsey continued by saying it was “in our chief national security interest to counter” ISIS “wherever we find them.”
Iraq publicly announced Thursday that it seeks U.S. air support to combat the advances of jihadi terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS).
Vice President Joe Biden discussed “additional measures” with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki Wednesday, measures that could help to “roll back the terrorists’ advances” towards Baghdad.
The Obama administration has butted heads with Maliki over the past week. While giving a speech in the Rose Garden, President Obama directly asked Maliki to address sectarian issues within his country. The Iraqi Prime Minister largely refused to do so, and seemingly reacted quite combatively to Obama’s push. Maliki called many within his government “traitors,” and then he sacked key military and governing officials.
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel echoed Obama’s platform, telling Congress, “This current government in Iraq has never fulfilled the commitments it made to bring a unity government together with the Sunnis, the Kurds, and the Shia.”
Senator John McCain took the Maliki issue a step further. He called upon the Iraqi Prime Minister to resign immediately. The Wall Street Journal said Obama concurred, reporting that the President would prefer to see Maliki removed.