In theory, when the U.S. deploys forces in military conflicts abroad, Congress is expected to debate and subsequently vote on the matter. Not so with the Obama administration's escalated military campaign against the Islamic State.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said in an interview published Thursday that while Congress should eventually weigh in, it would be inappropriate to do so during the lame-duck session that will follow the November elections.
“Doing this with a whole group of members who are on their way out the door, I don’t think that is the right way to handle this,” he told The New York Times.
Boehner, who supports an expanded American military role to defeat the extremists, said the matter of authorizing military force instead should be revisited when the new Congress convenes in January.
“I would suggest to you that early next year, assuming that we continue in this effort, there may be that discussion and there may be that request from the president," he said.
Boehner has previously said that while it would be in the "nation's interest" for members of Congress to weigh in, it is up to the president to ask for authorization.
Earlier this week, the U.S., along with several Arab nations, began bombing Islamic State military strongholds in Syria.
If the speaker believes it is not urgent for Congress to debate an escalated war, even a risk-laden operation in Syria, he is in tacit agreement with both the Obama administration and Democratic leadership in Congress. The administration maintains that President Barack Obama already has the authority to take military action against the Islamic State because of the 2001 authorization of military force against al Qaeda and the 2002 authorization for the war in Iraq.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) both support the administration's strategy and rationale that the president has all the authority he needs to wage war without a word from Congress.
“I support President Obama’s decisive action to degrade and destroy ISIS and other terrorists in Syria with the assistance of our Arab partners," Reid said in a statement following the Syria strikes.
“As we move forward, I expect consultations between the administration and Congress to continue," he added.