Rep. Mike McCaul, Texas Republican and chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said Thursday he thinks there is broad support within the House GOP conference for a measure supporting the destruction of the Islamic State terrorist group.
“I think that we do not want to go home without voting on some measure that goes towards destroying and defeating ISIS, wherever it exists,” said Mr. McCaul, emerging from a closed-door meeting with his House GOP colleagues Thursday.
Mr. McCaul said there are some concerns about President Obama’s approach to destroying the terrorist group, a plan that he laid out in a speech to the nation Wednesday night. The congressman said he wants to make sure the authority is there to destroy and defeat the group, also known as ISIS or ISIL — not simply “degrade” it.
“As chairman of Homeland Security, I will support any measure that can ultimately defeat this threat, which we see over there but is really a real threat to the United States and to the homeland,” he said.
Mr. McCaul said there is no “specific” threat to the homeland, but that the threat environment as a whole is so loud that he is concerned.
He said part of the strategy should entail arming moderate Syrian rebels, which Mr. Obama called for as part of the broader strategy that would also entail sending more U.S. military advisers to Baghdad, intensify airstrikes in Iraq and likely expand airstrikes into Syria.
The rebels are battling both the Islamic State and the regime of President Bashar Assad. Mr. McCaul said he’d like to see the vetting and training process for the rebels done outside of Syria.
“But we do need a ground force in Syria that we don’t presently have to date,” he said. “We have to rally as a nation. This is a serious threat, not only over there but to the homeland. Anything I can do to help destroy ISIS, I will support that.”