Does John Boehner Believe American Boots on Ground Needed to Defeat the Islamic State?
While a U.S.-led coalition continues to strike militants in Iraq and Syria, House Speaker John Boehner said President Obama's current strategy is insufficient to eliminate the threat posed by ISIS.
"If the goal is to destroy ISIS, as the president says it is, I don't believe the strategy that he outlined will accomplish that," Boehner told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos in an exclusive interview for ABC News in Portland, Maine, this week. "At the end of the day, I think it's going to take more than air strikes to drive them out of there. At some point somebody's boots have to be on the ground."
"American?" Stephanopoulos asked.
"Listen, the president doesn't want to do that," Boehner answered. "If I were the president, I probably wouldn't have talked about what I wouldn't do - and maybe we can get enough of those forces trained to get them on the battlefield, but somebody's boots have to be there."
"If no one else will step up, would you recommend putting American boots on the ground?" Stephanopoulos pressed.
"We have no choice," Boehner warned. "These are barbarians. They intend to kill us, and if we don't destroy them first, we're going to pay the price."
If the president requested new authorization for the use of military force, Boehner pledged to call the House back into session "next week."
"I'd be happy to," he said. "The president has not done that. He believes he has authority under existing resolutions to do what he's done."
"You don't agree?" Stephanopoulos asked.
"I think he does have the authority to do it, but the point I'm making is this is a proposal that the Congress ought to consider," the speaker said.
Boehner predicted that the GOP would take control of the Senate, and that Republicans would also add to their majority in the House. This week, Boehner made a campaign swing for GOP candidates through traditionally Democratic territory in New England.
"We can gain seats in this election, and we've got great prospects all over the country," Boehner said. "I don't think you can be a national party if you just ignore one part of the country."
Although last year Boehner told ABC News that immigration reform would be passed by the end of the current session of Congress, the speaker still contends it's one of his highest priorities.
"We had a flood of children coming across the border, once again proving that no good immigration bill can pass until we have real border security," he said. "Big things in Washington take bipartisan majorities. [The] issue of immigration? Only way to do it, and frankly the right way to do it, is to do it in a broad bipartisan way."
"And you think you can bring your party along on that?" Stephanopoulos asked.
"Absolutely," Boehner said. "I said the day after the 2012 election it was time to do immigration reform. I meant it then and I mean it today."
So what is Boehner's message to President Obama about the upcoming session of Congress?
"I think the conversation's pretty straightforward. 'Mr President you've got two years left. Want to have two years like we've had the last four years where we just butt heads and butt heads and butt heads?'" he continued. "It's up to us to see where the common ground is, but tax reform, a big highway bill, certainly are in the realm of doable."
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