PATRICIA ZENGERLE AND AMANDA BECKER --- Reuters
The Republican leader of the U.S. House of Representatives voiced support on Thursday for President Barack Obama's expanded campaign against Islamic State militants, but members of his party questioned whether the plan was forceful enough.
Obama sent a panel of top administration officials to make the case to Congress for broadening operations against the Sunni militants, including U.S. air strikes in Syria for the first time, more strikes in Iraq and more military advisers in Iraq.
In a televised address on Wednesday night, the Democratic president declared he would lead an alliance to root out Islamic State, plunging the United States into two conflicts in which nearly every country in the Middle East has a stake.
The White House argued that Obama does not need Congress' formal authorization, but wants legislators' support to show a united front against opponents and to coalition members.
House Speaker John Boehner said Obama had made a "compelling case for action" but said the president must provide Republicans with more details about his strategy. "It’s important to give the president what he has asked for," he told a news conference.
Boehner and other Republican leaders who support Obama's plans must unite factions within their party, including members deeply skeptical of Obama's spending plans and those who want the United States to cut its foreign military involvement.
Boehner said Republican House members have doubts about whether Obama's plan can accomplish his mission of destroying a militant group whose fighters have killed thousands of people in recent months.
"An F-16 is not a strategy. And air strikes alone will not accomplish what we’re trying to accomplish. The president’s made clear that he doesn’t want boots on the ground, well somebody’s boots have to be on the ground," the Ohio representative said.
A House vote could take place as soon as Tuesday on Obama's request for $500 million to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels, one part of his program.