President Obama today asked Congress to formally authorize military force against ISIS, arguing the militants could pose a threat to the US homeland if their violent power grab goes unchecked. In the three-page draft resolution (full text here), Obama is offering to limit authorization to three years, extending to the next president the powers and the debate over renewal for what he envisions as a long-range battle. He is proposing no geographic limitations where US forces could pursue the elusive militants. The authorization covers the Islamic State and "associated persons or forces," defined as those fighting on behalf of or alongside ISIS "or any closely-related successor entity in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners."
The proposal bans "enduring offensive combat operations," and he says his draft would not authorize long-term, large-scale ground combat operations like those deployed in the past to Iraq and Afghanistan, arguing those battles should be left to local forces instead of the US military. White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the provision would allow special operations missions, such as potential raids targeting Islamic State leaders or ones like the failed attempt last summer to rescue 26-year-old Kayla Mueller and other hostages held by the group. Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he appreciated the president seeking the authorization and would quickly begin holding "rigorous hearings" on the White House request. Obama plans to speak on his request from the White House this afternoon. (Read more ISIS stories.)