The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee said Congress still has a “moral and constitutional responsibility” to pass a military force authorization for current operations against Islamic State militants in Iraq.
But Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, said he’s not sure if lawmakers have a path to do that.
“I just don’t hear many people standing up for what the president has proposed,” he told reporters last week. “So we’re moving beyond that. The question is what can we pass.”
Weeks of lobbying from top defense officials has done little to move Congress closer to a compromise on the issue, even as U.S. military involvement in the fight approaches its eighth month.
About 2,600 U.S. troops already have been deployed to Iraq to advise and assist — but not directly intervene — in the fight against the radical insurgents.
Defense leaders have framed the need for a new military force authorization as less about legal need — White House attorneys insist existing authorizations give President Obama the right to send troops into the region — and more about the importance of a unified message from Congress.
But lawmakers are far from unified on that message.
At a House Armed Services Committee hearing last Wednesday, Republican lawmakers grilled Defense Secretary Ash Carter about perceived limitations of the draft force authorization, while Democrats fretted about the lack of parameters.
Read More:Authorization for Iraq mission stalls.