WASHINGTON — US President Barack Obama soon will send lawmakers a measure that would legally authorize America's fight against the Islamic State, says one congressional leader.
Following a meeting between Obama and congressional leaders at the White House, Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters he expects the president will send Congress an authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) in "the near future."
McConnell said that during the meeting, Obama "indicated he is working toward sending us an authorization of the use of military force."
"I think a good starting place is for him to tell us what he wants, and to provide the initial document of which we would work," McConnell said. "And my feeling is that we're just going to get that some time in the near future."
Republican lawmakers, including another participant in the Tuesday meeting, House Speaker Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, have been calling on Obama to submit a draft AUMF for several months. For the latest national security news from Capitol Hill, go to CongressWatch.Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., told reporters last week that he is meeting with military officials and the White House's coordinator for the fight, retired Marine Gen. John Allen, about an AUMF.
Corker wants to hold hearings at the committee level, then craft legislation and hold a votes in committees before either chamber votes on an Islamic State authorization.
In mid-December, the Foreign Relations Committee, then chaired by New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez, approved an authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) for the Islamic State fight.
That process included a lengthy hearing, during which Secretary of State John Kerry said the White House opposed provisions supported by his former Democratic colleagues, and which were included in the Menendez bill, that would have restricted actions by slapped restrictions on what US ground troops could do in Iraq and Syria. Essentially, that version would have prohibited them from offensive combat operations.
Corker last week acknowledged that the ground forces language is among the topics under discussion in his talks with the White House.
In a possible win for the White House, Republicans, including Corker, seem less inclined to pass a force-authorization measure with such restrictions.