Showing bipartisan American unity in the effort to fight the Islamic State militant group, Republican House Speaker John Boehner Thursday said Congress “ought to give the president what he’s asking for.”
It was a stark change in tone from Tuesday, when Boehner seemed to goad President Barack Obama for a “strategy.” He mentioned the term 13 times in the span of three minutes Tuesday, appearing to try and capitalize politically on the president saying last week, “We don’t have a strategy yet” when it comes to IS and his approach to Congress.
Boehner did signal at the news conference Thursday that he might be willing to go further than this president, who called for, in his prime-time address Wednesday night, airstrikes, covert American action, training of and coordination with Iraqi forces and training of more moderate Syrian rebels to take on IS in Syria.
“An F-16 is not a strategy,” Boehner said, adding, “Somebody’s boots have to be on the ground.”
Boehner said his members would need time to learn all the details of what the administration is proposing. There are some in his conference who also feel that the president’s plan doesn’t go far enough to “destroy” IS and that more needs to be done.
But when pressed if that meant he disagreed with the president’s strategy or if he should do more, Boehner wouldn’t go that far.
“We only have one commander-in-chief,” he said.
Republicans in the House are still trying to decide how to pass new funding the White House is requesting to train and equip Syrian rebels — whether it will be part of a continuing resolution or be voted on separately.
Congress has to extend government funding by the end of the month or the government would shut down again. Boehner is aiming to bring a government measure to the floor for a vote next week before the House goes on break again.
Quinn Bowman contributed to this report.