House Speaker John Boehner, commenting on President Obama’s strategy to defeat Islamic State militants, says Congress has received a request for authorization to train Syrian rebels and “we ought to give the president what he’s asking for.”
In a cautious show of support for the White House strategy, Boehner, speaking with reporters, said the president’s televised speech Wednesday night “made a compelling case for action” to destroy the threat from the extremist group.
“We are doing our due diligence with all our members” on the issue, he said, adding that “we stand ready to work with the president.”
The speaker said no decision had been made on the form of a legislative vehicle to approve the authorization for training the Free Syrian Army, as Obama has proposed.
Asked by a reporter whether there was concern about funneling U.S.-supplied arms to the FSA, Boehner said that “based on all the information that I’ve looked at, the Free Syrian Army has been vetted very well by our intelligence.”
But he also expressed some of the skepticism he shared with fellow House Republicans over the White House plan.
“A lot of our members think that a lot more needs to be laid out than last night,” he said.
Pressed by a reporter, Boehner said: “I am not sure that we’re doing all that we can to defeat this threat.
“An F-16 is not a strategy and airstrikes alone will not accomplish the mission,” he said, adding that although he understood that the president doesn’t want U.S. forces on the ground in Iraq or Syria, “somebody’s boots have to be on the ground.”