Republicans Warn Obama Doesn't Have Two Weeks to Mull Iraq

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., right, the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, right, joined by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., center, and joined by Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., left, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., right, the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, right, joined by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., center, and joined by Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., left, J. Scott Applewhite/AP

The Senate has one foot out the door for the Fourth of July holiday week, and Republican hawks are warning that by the time they get back, it could be too late for Iraq.

"By the time we get back it may be a done deal," said Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, speaking of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria's effort to overtake Iraq. "The safe haven these guys are beginning to form from Syria to Baghdad is unbelievably dangerous to us here at home."

The president has sent as many as 300 military advisers to the region to assess the damage and deliver recommendations about how the U.S. could provide support to the Iraqis.

At a closed-door briefing Tuesday night, senators were told it would be two or three weeks before the Pentagon had completed its first assessment.

"You don't have two to three weeks," said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. "Look at the map of Iraq two weeks ago. They are moving quickly and they need to be stopped."

The senators said they have not been presented with a concrete plan from the Obama administration about how it will address the security risks at the American Embassy and keep Baghdad from falling into the hands of the Islamic extremists.

"The president needs to make a recommendation on a plan to make sure that our people are safe and to ensure that [ISIS] isn't in a position where it has established an Islamic caliphate that it can threaten our country," said Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H. "The reality is, I'm not sure we have two weeks for him to make a decision on the Iraqi security situation."

While none of the senators advocated for boots on the ground, some were hoping for air strikes and a strong effort to replace Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki with an Iraqi leader who would unite the Islamic factions currently engaged in war.

House Republicans are similarly calling on the president to act. In a press briefing Wednesday, Speaker John Boehner said he's concerned Obama won't act in time.

"Allowing terrorists to gain a safe haven in Iraq from which to plan and launch attacks on Americans and our allies is a serious problem," Boehner said. "We've got to be engaged in Iraq; it's in our national interest to help reverse the momentum and the spread of terrorism."

Demanding that the president move more quickly appears to be the only action Congress is going to take. When asked if lawmakers would go off on holiday and leave the Iraq situation to the president, McCain shrugged his shoulders.

"Apparently," he said.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.