Anti-ISIS Actions to Continue Amid Calls for Congressional Vote
In the wake of U.S. airstrikes in Syria against the terrorist group Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS or ISIL), some Members of Congress have reissued calls for legislative authorization of any additional attacks.
According to Politico, Senator Angus King, an Independent from Maine who caucuses with the Democrats, recently said, “It makes it more clear that Congress should act. It’s really turning from what I would characterize as from defense and offense…we’re in another country”. Senator Tim Kaine, a Democrat from Virginia, vigorously knocked the Obama Administration at the liberal Center for American Progress. He said the legal justification for strikes in Syria—the 2001 and 2002 votes to authorize actions in Afghanistan and Iraq—was an “extremely creative stretch by extremely creative lawyers”.
Before departing for recess, Congress passed a continuing resolution that included authorization for the U.S. to train forces that are battling both the regime in Syria and ISIS. However, this authorization will expire on December 11. According to Politico, Senator Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, has conceded that there will be a debate on anti-ISIS military strategy when Congress returns from recess. However, Congress most likely will not return early. According to Roll Call, Speaker of the House John Boehner’s spokesman said authorization for military action is typically “requested and written by the commander-in-chief—and President Obama has not done that”. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s spokesman said that the President already possessed the authority to initiate the strikes.
According to one group, additional airstrikes occurred on Wednesday, but the claim has not been verified. According to the director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Lieutenant General William Mayville said that actions to defeat ISIS would be ongoing. “I would think in terms of years”, he said.
Some House Democrats in Blue States Facing Tough Races
Most people have been paying attention to Senate races in this year’s midterm elections, so it’s easy to miss interesting developments on the House side. According to The Hill’s Cameron Joseph and Jessica Taylor, things are not looking rosy for some Democrats in traditionally blue states. Republicans are running very competitive races against incumbent Democrats in Illinois, California, and New York. In some cases, the Democrats have shifted funding away from candidates in these states—a sign that they are not worth the investment in the long run. Some of these candidates were likely boosted by having President Barack Obama on the ballot when they were elected in 2012, and they will find it more difficult without him running this year.
Speaker Boehner: Use Private-Sector Experts for VA Audit
Speaker of the House John Boehner of Ohio has urged the Secretary for Veterans Affairs, Bob McDonald to select private-sector experts in healthcare delivery to conduct an audit of the Veterans Affairs (VA). The review is mandated by the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 (H.R. 3230), a law enacted in August in response to revelations of corruption and failure to provide adequate care to veterans.
In a letter to Secretary McDonald on Monday, the Speaker said the audit should provide “ valuable feedback that can be used to help transform the VA into an effective, 21st Century model of service.” Rather than contract with “traditional government consultants” the Secretary should use private sector organizations, with “experience in the successful delivery of modern, quality health care”, the Speaker argued. He also called the audit “a step toward fully understanding the systemic problems and ultimately transforming the VA from top to bottom and into the system veterans deserve.”
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