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Lawmakers call for robust push against militants in Iraq

Lawmakers in both political parties appearing on the Sunday news shows argued that preventing Islamist militants in Iraq from gaining more power should be a top priority for the United States.

"I think what we've begun doing is very good, but I think we have to get even bigger and realize that the crushing and the pushing back of ISIS, not just in Iraq, but also in Syria, is utmost priority," Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) said on ABC's "This Week With George Stephanopoulos," referring to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, which now goes by the name Islamic State.

Kinzinger, an Iraq war veteran, said he does not think deploying ground troops is a good solution. But, he added, nothing should eliminated in public at this point.

"I think things like special forces embedded with the Iraqi military as the Iraqi military regrows its spine to take its country back is going to be essential and important. You never publicly take anything off the table, even if you take it off the table privately, because it just shows the enemy what you're not willing to do," he said. 

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), another Iraq war veteran, said on the same program that the United States needs to clearly define its mission.

"If our mission is not to take out the Islamic extremists who continue to threaten and wage war against us, then I think we've got a real problem here," she said. "If we focus on that mission, which I think we should, then we can look at what are the tactics that we need to take them out."

Gabbard added, "Right now we're seeing in Kurdistan — we need to arm the Kurds with heavy weapons, because they are doing the hard work on the ground, they are fighting against ISIS. And we can augment that and support that with our targeted airstrikes."

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said curbing the power of the militants in Iraq means also playing a bigger role in neighboring Syria.

"Well, you're not going to solve the ISIL problem in Iraq without dealing with the Syria problem. I think the president said they're not related; they are absolutely related. Matter of fact, their caliphate, they believe their capital is going to be in Syria," Rogers said on CBS's "Face The Nation," using another acronym for the Islamic State.

Iraqi military forces, which have been bolstered by U.S. airstrikes against Islamic State militants, launched an attempt Sunday to retake control of the country’s biggest dam.

A pair of lawmakers appearing on "Fox News Sunday" urged President Obama to consult Congress about future actions in the region.

"I think Congress has to play an important role in this. This is the way our Constitution works, and I think that Congress is really tired of presidents just going in by themselves, so I think there has to be consultation and an assent from Congress," said Rep. Eliot Engel (N.Y.).

Engel, the top-ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said that although ground troops are not the answer, nether is doing nothing in Iraq.

"Well, I don’t think we’re going to put boots on the ground the way we did before in Iraq," he said. "I don’t think anybody really wants to do that. And we do have some boots on the ground right now, and, frankly, we need to do everything we can to repel ISIS. I don’t think we have the luxury of putting our heads in the sand and saying, well, it’s over there and we’re not going to do it."

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, agreed.

"This threat is a gathering storm. It’s not going away. And like Congressman Engel said, we can’t bury our heads in the sands in this one. We may be war-weary, but I’d tell you, ISIS, ISIL is not war-weary," he said.

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.



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