“If this Congress is serious about winning this war, and wants to send a message to our troops and the world, you should finally authorize the use of military force against ISIL,” Obama said. “Take a vote. But the American people should know that with or without Congressional action, ISIL will learn the same lessons as terrorists before them.”
Obama made sure to highlight the several foreign policy successes of his administration, including the raid that led to the death of Osama bin Laden.
House Speaker Paul Ryan has also urged Congress to move forward on a vote to update the Authorization for Use of Military Force that the U.S. has used since 2001. Former House Speaker John Boehner tried and failed, but with Ryan, the AUMF stands a non-zero chance of passing.
Many Republicans believe that an AUMF vote would essentially constitute an endorsement of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record and future plans, which many think of as a complete disaster.
“But when it comes to Obama and his red lines and his flub-ups he’s had internationally, I hate to be seen giving him the authority or green light or my vote to do anything because I have no confidence in him at all in that theater,” GOP Rep. Tom Rooney said, according to Politico.
Another reason members of Congress have been reticent to give the Obama administration the go-ahead on an AUMF is because it may restrict the use of ground combat troops.
Obama said that the principal focus is on ISIS and al-Qaida, but pointed to instability in Afghanistan and Pakistan as well, although ISIS has made serious gains in Afghanistan.