Republican candidates are hammering Democrats on national security issues, looking to gain an edge ahead of Election Day.
Candidates have criticized President Obama’s strategy on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria as polls show growing public concern over the prolonged military campaign.
But ISIS is only one of many challenges facing the administration. And if Republicans capture the Senate — and with it control of Congress in November — GOP lawmakers could provide a major obstacle to the president’s foreign policy agenda.
Here are five issues where a Republican Senate could challenge Obama on national security.
1) Pushing ground troops against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
GOP lawmakers have been sharp critics of the president’s strategy against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, questioning if air power alone can take out the terror group.
President Obama has ruled out U.S. combat troops, but many military officials have said that ground forces will be needed to root out ISIS. The U.S. is moving to train vetted Syrian rebel groups and to adviser Iraqi forces to carry out the fight, but critics warn those local forces will not be ready for months, maybe years.
Republicans, most notably Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), have called for a more robust response, including deploying special forces on the ground to coordinate coalition airstrikes against ISIS.
McCain is widely expected to become chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee should Republicans take the upper chamber.
The gavel would give McCain responsibility for crafting the Senate version of the Pentagon’s annual policy blueprint, and provide him a prominent role overseeing the anti-ISIS fight.
“This is absolutely going to be a priority of a Republican Congress,” predicted Mackenzie Eaglen, a defense analyst at the American Enterprise Institute.
The GOP likely will hold several “high profile” hearings scrutinizing the administration’s strategy against ISIS, said Eaglen. And with control of the Pentagon’s purse strings, Republican lawmakers will have a greater say in the military campaign.