Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell issued a withering repudiation of President Obama’s foreign policy record in a speech on the Senate floor speech Wednesday and urged the president to seek congressional authorization in his speech on the burgeoning terrorist threat this evening.
“Tonight the President needs to set forth the military strategy and the means required to defeat ISIL, and link those actions to any additional authorization and appropriations he’d like to see from Congress,” McConnell said.
The Kentucky Republican’s speech came moments after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid vowed to oppose any use of ground troops to address the Islamic State (ISIS) and slammed the GOP for relying on the advice of former Vice President Dick Cheney.
Cheney is “more responsible than anyone else for the worst foreign policy decision in the history of the country – the invasion of Iraq,” Reid said, warning that Republicans will “rush to commit U.S. Troops to a ground war in the Middle East.”
In his remarks, McConnell said Obama had adopted an “economy of force” approach focused on drone strikes and training foreign fighters that is an outgrowth of the poll-tested slogans he used to twice win the presidency, but the strategy is becoming increasingly “outpaced” by the ISIS threat.
Saying the U.S. has “a duty, as a superpower without imperialistic aims, to help maintain international order and balance of power,” McConnell said Obama, a “reluctant commander in chief,” is “more or less content to let others shape our destiny for us.”
McConnell’s demand for congressional authorization in the speech was softer than rhetoric he used Tuesday calling for a vote on additional military action and followed a meeting yesterday at the White House with Obama and other congressional leaders in which Obama said he would not be seeking congressional authorization.
Many rank-and-file Republicans believe such authorization is required by the Constitution, which grants Congress the power to delcare war, but Speaker John Boehner and other top Republicans have been reluctant to press the issue.
Georgia Republican Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) said Tuesday that Republicans are wary of the issue because the upcoming midterm elections are coming up and they would prefer to “stay on the sideline” to avoid the risk of political harm.
“A lot of people would like to stay on the sideline and say, ‘Just bomb the place and tell us about it later.’ It’s an election year. A lot of Democrats don’t know how it would play in their party, and Republicans don’t want to change anything. We like the path we’re on now. We can denounce it if it goes bad, and praise it if it goes well and ask what took him so long,” Kingston told the New York Times.