Speaker Boehner Silent on Ground Troops, Calls on Obama to 'Destroy' ISIS

As lawmakers question whether ground forces should be an aspect of the U.S. strategy to combat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, House Speaker John Boehner refused to enter the growing debate.

Instead, he punted to President Obama ahead of a highly anticipated meeting with congressional leadership at the White House this afternoon.

"What I'm hoping to hear from the president today is a strategy that goes after ISIS and destroys them," Boehner, R-Ohio, said during a news conference on Capitol Hill today.

"I've been calling for a strategy to deal with the growing terrorist threat since January, when ISIS came across the border in Western Iraq," he stressed. "We have a very serious problem and what we need is a strategy, and until there is a strategy, there is no reason to talk about any of the specifics because I don't know how they fit into the broader strategy."

On January 9, Boehner first pressed the White House for a renewed counterterrorism strategy in Iraq, publicly complaining the United States' national security gains there were "threatened" and "reversed."

"The United States has and will continue to have a vital national interest in Iraq," Boehner said at the time. "We must maintain a long-term commitment to a successful outcome there, and it's time that the president recognized this and get engaged."

President Obama is expected to detail his strategy during an address to the nation on Wednesday night.

Asked whether Congress should exercise its constitutional prerogative to debate the president's war powers, Boehner questioned whether the violence in Iraq and Syria even qualifies as a war.

"Is that what we're talking about?" Boehner wondered aloud. "Until the president…[explains] what his strategy is to deal with this growing terrorist threat and the strategy to defeat it,…all we're doing is speculating."

Today, Boehner emphasized he still hopes to hear Obama "outline his strategy for how we're going to deal with" ISIS.

"We need to be going after the terrorist threat wherever it is," Boehner said. "Anyone that thinks this is just an Iraq-Syria issue is not paying much attention to what's happening around the world."