Sen. John McCain said Sunday that Congress should give President Obama more military authority than he has asked for to defeat the Islamic State.
Mr. McCain, chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, said stripping the commander-in-chief of any military options is “unconstitutional and frankly leaders to 535 commander-in-chiefs” as lawmakers get too involved in specific military strategy.
“I think we should not restrain the president of the United States,” the Arizona Republican said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “Congress has the power of the purse. If we don’t like what the commander-in-chief is doing, we can cut off his funds for doing so.”
The president last week presented to Congress a new war authorization for military action against the Islamic State, despite having conducted airstrikes for more than six months under authorizations from 2001 and 2002.
Mr. McCain said that while it’s “probably not absolutely necessary” to approve a new authorization, it’s “probably appropriate” to have the debate since Congress hasn’t done so in more than a decade.
Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, the ranking Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, said he doesn’t support putting a time limit on any war authorization, despite the White House’s proposal only lasting three years. He does, however, support limiting which U.S. troops can be sent into battle.
Asked why it’s Americans’ responsibility to clean up the chaos in the Middle East, Mr. Reed cited U.S. national security, adding that it’s also Americans’ responsibility to help stabilize the region after overthrowing the Iraqi government in 2003.
“We have the consequences of that decision, which I opposed,” he said on “Meet the Press.” “We have to do this in our own self interest, we’re doing this to help countries, but ultimately it’s to protect ourselves.”