Congressman Dave Loebsack says congress should vote on whether the U.S. escalates its military response against Islamic militants who’ve seized portions of Iraq and Syria. There will be a vote next week on the amount of money to be spent on the effort.
“But I think it is important that we debate this separately and that we do address this (policy) separately as a congress,” Loebsack says.
Loebsack, who is a Democrat from Iowa City, says that vote should take place before November’s election, but he does not yet know whether he’d vote to support the president’s new objectives in the region.
“No, I don’t have enough information yet to make that determination,” Loebsack says. “I wanted to hear what the president had to say…and I want to discuss this with my colleagues and, just as importantly, I want to be talking with my constituents about this.”
Last night President Obama delivered a prime-time address to the nation and announced he was authorizing air strikes into Syria. Loebsack says he’s “very concerned” about that move.
“Not only because it’s going to be difficult to do the kind of strikes that we’re talking about and to be very accurate,” Loebsack says. “I’m always concerned about so-called ‘collateral damage,’ but I am also concerned about making certain that if there are strikes in Syria that the intelligence that’s gathered ahead of time is accurate.”
According to Loebsack, it will be difficult to identify the radical and the moderate forces within Syria.
“Syria’s a very complicated situation with Assad and then the various opponents to him, including ISIS, but then there are others who are friendlier to the United States,” Loebsack says. “But I am concerned about the ability to sort out who is who in Syria, and then what the consequences may be.”
Loebsack is the only member of Iowa’s congressional delegation who serves on the House Armed Services Committee.
“I do think it is important that folks who pose a real threat to Americans, either here at home or abroad, do need to know that, ultimately, there will not be any hiding from America’s strength and our reach,” Loebsack says.
The Armed Services Committee held hearings earlier this week and today Loebsack and other House members will get a briefing from Obama Administration officials with more details.
“I agree with the president that we must not put troops back in Iraq, other than the troops that are there to help the Iraqis and to help train the Iraqis,” Loebsack says. “But targeted air strikes may very well be necessary to ultimately degrade and, eventually, defeat ISIS.”
President Obama said there should be “no mistake” about America’s willingness to go after Islamic State militants “on either side” of the Syrian border. Obama Administration officials say the congressional vote taken 13 years ago — right after the September 11th attacks — gives the president authority to order air strikes in Syria, so another congressional vote is not necessary. However, Obama is asking congress to authorize spending half a billion dollars to help train and arm rebels fighting the Islamic State. The president also said a coalition of countries would join the effort “to ensure the United States is not acting alone.”