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McCain, Corker Doubtful of White House’s ISIS Strategy, Intent for AUMF

McCain and Corker are skeptical of the Obama administration's intent for an AUMF. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
McCain and Corker are skeptical of the Obama administration's intent for an AUMF. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Leaving Wednesday’s closed briefing on the fight against the Islamic State, the terror group also known as ISIS or ISIL, Sen. John McCain said he doubted the Obama administration really wanted to have a new Authorization for Use of Military Force at all.  

“They keep talking about the AUMF. They haven’t, they haven’t sent over anything. I’ve been involved in numerous of these crises where they send over a request for the authorization for the use of military force,” the Arizona Republican said. “You can’t believe they really want it if they don’t even send over a proposal.”  

McCain is in line to take the gavel of the Armed Services Committee next year when Republicans take the Senate majority, while Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., is set to become chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.  

Corker expressed a similar view.  

“There isn’t a strategy yet, and I believe that’s the reason that they really have not pushed for an AUMF,” Corker said. “I’ve heard not a word from a soul. I’ve talked to John Kerry multiple times. He’s never mentioned the AUMF. I’ve never had — gotten a word from the White House.”  

“They’re not asking for an AUMF. When you ask for an AUMF, you explicitly ask for it and you typically send a draft as to what you would like,” Corker said. “The reason they haven’t come and explicitly asked for an AUMF is because they don’t have a strategy yet.”  

Corker also engaged Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., in an impromptu discussion in front of reporters gathered in the basement of the Capitol. During that exchange, Coons said “a classified briefing is very valuable,” but called for a broader public debate.  

Corker then asked Coons in front of the press if he had received any calls from the administration seeking an AUMF. Coons said he hadn’t.  

Corker called what exists of a plan to combat the terror group in Syria and Iraq “quarter-baked.”  

“I had a long meeting with Gen. [John] Allen this week, and I do think he’s adding good thinking to how we go about doing what we’re doing, but … this whole effort is maybe a quarter-baked at this point.”  

Retired Marine Allen is overseeing the effort.  

Separately, Coons said the session “was not a briefing to discuss strategy. It was a briefing to give us details about progress in Iraq, progress in Syria, progress on a number of fronts.”  

“Clearly a number of members had strong and persistent questions about strategy, and a frequent answer is that’s above my pay grade, that is exactly the sort of debate and discussion you should be having, you know, with the secretary of state or the secretary of defense in an open hearing,” said Coons.  

“I accept the explanation offered to me that Sec. Kerry critically had to be in Vienna to conclude the final few days of vital negotiations with Iran,” he said. “I accept that, but I do think it is essential that we get to an AUMF debate promptly.”  


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