The White House and House Speaker John Boehner are trading blame over a stalled measure to legally authorize the fight against ISIS.
Months after President Obama sent Congress his draft proposal to fight ISIS, Boehner , R-Ohio, called on the president Tuesday to scrap his proposed Authorization for the Use of Military Force and “start over.”
“With new gains made by ISIL in Ramadi, we know that hope is not a strategy,” Boehner said. “The president’s plan isn’t working. It’s time for him to come up with a real, overarching strategy to defeat the ongoing terrorist threat.”
But the White House says it's Congress, and not the president's plan, that’s the real problem.
"Congress has been AWOL when it comes to the AUMF," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters in Tuesday's press briefing, saying that Speaker Boehner has offered "excuse after excuse for why he hasn't done his job."
"At some point, it has to be the responsibility of the Speaker of the House to do his job and for members of Congress to do their job," Earnest continued.
Obama sent a draft proposal to Congress on February 11, but the blueprint was immediately rejected by Republicans and Democrats – though for different reasons.
Some Democrats believe the president’s draft was not restrictive enough, calling on the president to repeal his 2001 AUMF to fight al Qaeda in addition to the authorization from 2002 to fight in Iraq.
But across the aisle, Republicans have criticized the draft proposal because they believe it restricts the president’s power to wage combat compared to the two authorizations he is depending on now to engage ISIS.
“The president’s request for an authorization of the use of military force calls for less authority than he has today. I just think given the fight that we’re in it’s irresponsible,” Boehner said. “This is why the president, frankly, should withdraw the authorization of the use of military force and start over.
“We don’t have a strategy,” he continued. “For over two years now, I’ve been calling on the president to develop an overarching strategy to deal with this growing terrorist threat. We don’t have one and the fact is the threat is growing faster than what we and our allies can do to stop it.”
Asked why Congress doesn’t assert its own war powers, Boehner conceded that the ongoing military operation to fight ISIS is “the president’s responsibility.”
“We have one commander in chief at a time. It’s the president’s responsibility to wage this battle and the president in my view is not taking this threat as seriously it he should,” Boehner said. “When a major city in Iraq, Ramadi, gets overrun by ISIL and the administration says, ‘Well it’s just a temporary setback.’ It’s 70 miles from Baghdad! It’s time for the president to get serious about this threat to Americans and our allies all around the world."
Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, noted that he is “deeply disappointed” that Boehner “abdicated responsibility” for the AUMF.
"The reality is that we wait only for the courage to act, and that is not something that can be delivered by pouch from the White House," Schiff, D-California, stated. "At the end of the day, it is the Congress that will suffer from its apathy, as the institution will see its role as a check on the President's war-making authority atrophy beyond recognition."