- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 19, 2015

House Speaker John A. Boehner said Tuesday that President Obama should withdraw his current war request from Congress and “start over,” coming up with an entirely new strategy to fight the Islamic State after this weekend’s setback in Iraq.

“We don’t have a strategy,” Mr. Boehner said in calling for the do-over.

The Ohio Republican had spent much of last year demanding Mr. Obama send up a request for Congress to authorize the use of military force, known in Capitol-speak as an AUMF. But when Mr. Obama finally did send one up, it left Congress paralyzed, and no major legislative action has occurred in the three months since.

Facing stiff criticism from those who say Congress is shirking its duties, Mr. Boehner said it was Mr. Obama who was failing by sending up a bad request.

He said Mr. Obama asked for less power to fight the Islamic State than he currently has under the 2001 legislation that authorized war against al Qaeda and the Taliban — the powers the president has already been relying on to fight the Islamic State for a year.

“The president’s request for an Authorization for the Use of Military Force calls for less authority than he has today,” Mr. Boehner said.

The demand comes just days after Iraqi troops retreated and Islamic State fighters took control of Ramadi, a city 70 miles from Baghdad. But it also comes after a U.S. special forces raid in Syria on Friday killed about a dozen Islamic State terrorists.

The contrast left some military analysts insisting it was evidence that U.S. troops will be needed to win the fight against the Islamic State, also known as ISIL or ISIS.

A White House spokesman said Tuesday that Mr. Obama talks to his national-security team every day to see where it might be necessary to “tweak” the U.S. strategy in the fight against the Islamic State.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the recent setbacks illustrate “how important it is for us to maintain some perspective.” He said Mr. Obama predicted a difficult, long-term campaign when he hosted military chiefs from coalition partners last October near Washington.

“Over the course of the last four or five days, we’ve seen all of this,” Mr. Earnest said. “We’ve seen there are no quick fixes involved. Certainly the ISIL effort to take over Ramadi [in western Iraq] is a setback. While we have certain periods of setback, we also have days of progress.”

He also said the wife of an Islamic State leader killed by U.S. special forces in a weekend raid has been detained and is being “interrogated” for any information about the group’s oil and gas operations and hostage-taking.

The White House rejected Mr. Boehner’s call to submit a new request for authorizing military force, saying Congress has yet to fulfill its constitutional duty to act on the current request.

Congress has been AWOL when it comes to the AUMF,” Mr. Earnest said. “At some point, it has to be the responsibility of the speaker of the House to do his job. What we see from the speaker is excuse after excuse for why he hasn’t done his job. That has been a source of significant disappointment for the president.”

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