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GOP leaders call on Obama to lay out strategy to attack Islamic State

This item has been updated.

House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) criticized President Obama Tuesday for not having a strategy to deal with the Islamic State and its growing threat, ahead of an afternoon huddle at the White House.

"What we need is a strategy," Boehner told reporters after the GOP's weekly caucus meeting, which included a discussion with former Vice President Richard B. Cheney.

The speaker refused to discuss whether Congress would need to take up a vote authorizing increased military action, reserving judgment until the congressional leaders meet with Obama. His comments were designed to tweak Obama, who recently stumbled in a public admission that his administration had not yet decided on a strategy to deal with the Islamic State in Syria.

The speaker called for a very aggressive approach, regardless of international borders: "a strategy that goes after ISIS and destroys them ... wherever it is."

Obama is scheduled to meet with Boehner, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in the Oval Office later Tuesday to discuss the situation in Iraq and Syria.

McConnell was also noncommittal Tuesday morning on how Congress should proceed, saying during a Senate floor speech that Obama "needs to explain to Congress how additional authorities of the use of force will protect Americans. The threat from ISIL is real and it’s growing. It’s time for President Obama to exercise some leadership in launching a response."

Later, McConnell told reporters that the issue is beginning to resonate with Americans in ways few other foreign policy issues have this year.

“This is the first time anything outside of the borders of the united states has come up this year in my campaign, people are clearly following and realize there is a threat to the United States," he said during a weekly exchange with reporters.

For his part, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told reporters that it is important to get all of the facts of Obama’s planned strategy for dealing with ISIS before declaring whether or not Congress should rush to approve military action.

Meanwhile, House Democrats said they are pleased with Obama's plans to brief Congress in the coming days -- but acknowledged that they are torn over what specific military action should be taken to address the growing threat.

"The action the president has taken so far has been the right course of action," said Rep. Joe Crowley, (D-N.Y.), the vice chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. Rep. Bill Keating (D-Mass.), who sits on the House Foreign Affairs and Homeland Security committees, agreed:  "I think there is a feeling that he's acting within his powers now," he said.

Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.), who leads the House Democratic Caucus, said that his colleagues want Obama to lay out a specific action plan and then have congressional leaders decide whether what he's asking for would require congressional authorization. He added, however, that conversation during the weekly meeting of House Democrats exposed a split over whether or not they would vote in favor of deploying combat troops to address the threat of the Islamic terror group.

Speaking for skeptics, Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) said he is pleased with Obama's efforts to brief Congress but would strongly oppose any effort to use ground troops unless Congress authorized a war. "Every war I've been in Congress on has started out with advisers and no boots on the ground," he said. "And then..."

Rangel, who has been a longtime proponent of restarting the military draft, reiterated Tuesday that it should be restarted if the U.S. ever needs to deploy combat troops in Iraq and Syria.

"Ultimately, we don't want to end up with even more Americans killed because they are volunteering to fight and protect our national security." he said.

Wesley Lowery contributed to this report.