Published December 20, 2015
President Obama will meet Tuesday with Capitol Hill leaders to discuss pressing foreign-policy issues including how to combat Islamic State terrorists, as Congress comes back from summer break and the president returns from a NATO summit.
The Oval office meeting is scheduled to include Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada; Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.; House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio; and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
They are expected to discuss a range of world issues including whether to launch more air strikes on Islamic State and Russia’s foray into eastern Ukraine.
The meeting between Obama and Hill leaders will also be their first since mid-June, when they met to discuss the terror group’s deadly march into northern Iraq, as reported first by The Washington Post.
One likely discussion will be whether Congress will authorize strikes on Islamic State targets in Syria, after Obama last month authorized limited ones in Iraq as part of a humanitarian effort to save Iraqi minorities trapped on a remote mountainside.
The White House has also argued it didn’t need congressional approval for the strikes because they were requested by the Iraqi government and to protect American personnel.
Members of Congress have pressed Obama for a plan to combat Islamic State, which has beheaded two American journalists in retaliation for the air strikes on its targets inside Iraq.
Obama returned Friday from the NATO summit in Wales with pledges of support from numerous allied leaders on confronting Islamic State militants in the Middle East.
“Now that the president has conducted initial consultations with our allies, and stated his objective to degrade and destroy (Islamic State,) it’s time to present a strategy to Congress,” McConnell said. “I hope he will begin to do that at Tuesday’s meeting. … And where the president believes he lacks authority to execute such a strategy, he needs to explain to the Congress how additional authority for the use of force will protect America.”
McConnell also said he thinks Obama will get “significant” congressional support if he presents a solid, strategic plan but argued his plan to equip the militaries of allied nations as the United States shrinks its global military presence is “untenable.”
Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, a member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said last week that he plans to propose legislation upon Congress’ return to Washington, to authorize strikes on Islamic State militants.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.