The retiring Republican House Armed Services Committee chairman is calling a White House request for $5.6 billion more to fight the Islamic State insufficient.
Reports surfaced Thursday that the Obama administration would ask Congress for that much more funding for its air strikes and other operations in Iraq and Syria. But HASC Chairman Buck McKeon, R-Calif., worried that amount would lead to an “underfunded” conflict.
“I have long been concerned that the president has underfunded our combat operations against terrorists — not only against [Islamic State], but against the Taliban and al-Qaida in Afghanistan and their affiliates in Asia and Africa,” McKeon said in a Friday statement.
The House has approved $79.4 billion in 2015 war funding; the Senate’s defense bill proposes just under $60 billion after the White House finally asked for $58.6 billion after months of calculating its needs.
“I will give any new funding request fair consideration,” McKeon said. “However, I remain concerned that the president’s strategy to defeat [Islamic State] is insufficient. I would urge the president to reconsider his strategy and clearly explain how this additional funding supports a new direction. Such clarity is more likely to find swift congressional approval.”
McKeon was the first lawmaker to clearly call for a return of American ground troops to Iraq to fight the violent Sunni group. His committee is scheduled to pepper Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey about the administration’s Islamic State strategy during a Thursday hearing.
Approving or amending the new request could be one of McKeon’s final acts. He will retire when the 113th Congress adjourns in late December.