South Florida lawmakers and others react to President Barack Obama’s expanded campaign of military airstrikes and support for partner forces to combat the Islamic State militant group:
“Even though it’s long overdue, I support targeted airstrikes in Syria but I’m disappointed that the President is once again circumventing Congress on military action. However, President Obama can’t have it both ways – he wants Congressional approval for funds to arm and train the so called moderate rebels but won’t seek our approval to strike ISIL in Syria.
U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami
“This group will be degraded and defeated, but it’s going to be a long-term deal. It’s going to be probably years. The United States is putting together the coalition that will go after them. The U.S. will probably put boots on the ground, but it will be more commando raids and forward air observers with others to do the actual strikes on the ground. But we have no choice. This is a vicious, diabolical group that must be stopped.”
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U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla.
“I believe the President is in a much better place than where he was a few weeks ago, when he was downplaying ISIL’s capabilities to threaten America’s security and the moderate Syrian rebels’ ability to fight the radical Islamists. However, I am concerned by the President’s view that we should try to replicate what we’ve done in Yemen and Somalia, which remain dangerous places because of the terrorist threat. And I remain concerned by his unwillingness to prepare the American people for what will likely be a long, difficult struggle. As this debate moves forward, I hope the President will step up and make his case to the American people that we will do whatever it takes, however long it takes, to defeat ISIL and protect the American people.”
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.
“There is no doubt that ISIS poses a direct threat to American interests and stability across the Middle East. However, no single action is enough to contain and degrade ISIS. It will take a collaborative effort led by the Iraqi Government with support from the United States, regional partners, and the broader international community.
U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar
“While the Administration’s lack of strategy and leadership on foreign affairs has facilitated the growth and development of radical Islamic organizations, it is now time for our nation to stand together in the effort to destroy ISIL. These vile terrorists have already viciously murdered two American journalists- one of them from South Florida - and represent a serious threat to American national security. I support the President’s effort to build a strong international coalition with the clear goal of eliminating the threat posed by ISIL to our country and allies. Every American will be safer when ISIL is extinguished.”
Carlos Curbelo, Republican candidate for Congressional District 26
“The growing influence of ISIL stands to completely destabilize the region and poses a very real threat to American interests at home and abroad. The brutal, publicized murders of two Americans, one a fellow South Floridian, showed the world the extent of their inhumanity. ISIL must be dealt with decisive action and a coordinated, comprehensive response by the United States, the Iraqi government, regional partners, and the international community.”
U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Miami
The president “has finally begun to make the case the nation has needed him to make for quite some time: that destroying this terrorist threat requires decisive action and must be the highest priority for the United States and other nations of the free world. A speech is not the same thing as a strategy, however. While the president presented a compelling case for action, many questions remain about the way in which the president intends to act.”
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.
“Working with a broad coalition of partners and without using U.S. combat forces on the ground, we will lead a comprehensive counterterrorism strategy to dismantle the threat ISIS poses to the region and the United States.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
The Islamic State group “is not confined to historically recognized borders and any strategy to defeat ISIL must recognize that reality. That is why I support the administration’s request to support moderate Syrian fighters. If we are to be successful in Syria as well as Iraq, we must have a capable partner on the ground.”
Rep. Adam Smith of Washington state, top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee.
“I support the president taking military action in Iraq and Syria to combat this organization. I also support his request for additional authority to support the moderate, vetted Syrian opposition. But more must be done.”
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.
“The president’s strategy calls for a broad coalition to support Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds and religious minorities as they come together to fight a common enemy. It does not call for American ground combat troops, which I believe are not only unnecessary, but could the effort by playing into the propaganda of the extremists. I support the president’s strategy, and I believe a large majority of Congress and the American people will as well.”
Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
“As we pursue action, we must make sure we thoroughly vet our Syrian allies and ensure our intelligence and information sharing efforts with our international coalition partners are robust and reciprocated.”
Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, top Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee.
“After calling on the president to take additional actions against ISIL, I am encouraged by his statement this evening and his willingness to take strong action to defeat ISIL. Tonight, the president has announced the United States’ willingness to lead a coalition to destroy ISIL, and I support these efforts.”
Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee.
“The president is to be commended for his decision to take action against ISIL targets, wherever they are, including Syria.”
Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
“The American people must be assured that we are not pursuing another open-ended conflict in the Middle East, and I will not give this president — or any other president — a blank check to begin another land war in Iraq.”
Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., a member of the Senate Armed Services and Intelligence committees who is facing a tough re-election.
“It is my view that the president possesses existing authorities to strike ISIL in the short term, but that a prolonged military campaign will require a congressionally approved Authorization for Use of Military Force.”
Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
“No boots on the ground' sounds odd when 1,100 U.S. troops have been sent back to Iraq. And more will be necessary. Specifically, additional U.S. special forces and advisers are needed to direct precision air strikes, advise foreign partners on the ground and possibly conduct targeted operations against ISIS leadership.”
Sens. John McCain, R-Arizona, and Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, members of the Senate Armed Services Committee.