House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Md.) said Wednesday that Congress should get ready to debate and vote on an authorization for war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the lame-duck session.
“When this Congress comes back into session in November, it’s important we are ready to debate and vote on such an authorization. Between then and now, we should be prepared,” Pelosi said at her weekly press conference.
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), however, said in an interview last week that debating the use-of-force authorization with lawmakers who might not return to Congress next year is the wrong approach.
Pelosi emphasized that Congress shouldn’t wait for President Obama to send a request to Capitol Hill.
“I disagree with the Speaker who says ‘well, we should wait for the president to give us an authorization so that we can vote on it,’ ” she said.
“You don’t wait for the president to write it. Congress writes it because we are asserting our willingness to vote for a plan of action,” she added.
Pelosi said she and Boehner both believe Obama has the necessary authority to carry out current military operations. If the president were to expand them, Pelosi said, an authorization would define “how we would limit the power of the president or not.”
Lawmakers have been talking informally about the details of possible authorizations, Pelosi said. Those talks should become official conversations, she added.
Pelosi criticized Republicans for leaving Washington so early ahead of the midterm elections and said Congress should have stayed to work on the war authorization.
Several lawmakers, including Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) and Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), have already introduced bills that provide for the use of military force.
Before Congress left Washington, lawmakers approved an authorization to train and arm vetted moderate Syrian rebels, just one of many elements in the U.S. war against ISIS.
Last week, the Obama administration expanded airstrikes into Syria in conjunction with Arab partners.