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Reid Calls for ‘ISIS Czar’ After Obama Address

(Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
(Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., unveiled a litany of Democratic proposals to combat the Islamic State Monday, following President Barack Obama’s address to the country Sunday night.  

Among the proposals that will be incorporated into a comprehensive bill was the creation of an “ISIS czar,” or one point person in the federal government to coordinate the response to the terrorist group. According to a Reid aide, the bill includes 12 main components aimed at foreign and domestic policies. “Senate Democrats support President Obama’s plan to fight ISIS and protect America,” Reid said on the Senate floor. He later added, “We also know that we can do more to fight terrorists.”  

Reid Calls for ‘ISIS Czar’ After Obama Address

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According to the aide, the foreign policy components of the bill would involve an ISIS czar; new sanctions against institutions that “knowingly facilitate financial transactions with ISIS;” a new “stabilization fund” aimed at helping Jordan and Lebanon deal with the flow of Syrian refugees; confirming Adam Szubin as Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial crimes; improving intelligence sharing among allies, and developing a “comprehensive strategy” against ISIS propaganda.  

On the home front, the Democrats’ proposal include reforming the visa waiver program; prohibiting those listed on the suspected terrorist “no-fly” list from buying guns; tougher vetting of airport workers; securing locations that host radiological material that could be used for a “dirty bomb;” creating a new Department of Homeland Security office focused solely on “homegrown extremism;” studying encryption technology; and providing grants to state and local law enforcement for active shooter response training.  

Last week at the White House, Press Secretary Josh Earnest outlined some of the personnel who are coordinating the administration’s strategy. On Nov. 30, Earnest said Obama had recently elevated Rob Malley, the National Security Council’s Middle East and North Africa coordinator, to serve as senior advisor to the president for the Counter-ISIL Campaign in Iraq and Syria and “will focus on ensuring full interagency coordination across all lines of effort.” Earnest added that Malley’s new position “will be complementary to and in partnership with Brett McGurk, who is the President’s Special Envoy to the Counter-ISIL Campaign.”  

Reid’s proposal comes on the heels of Obama’s address and Republican criticism that the president does not have a clear strategy to combat ISIS. With lawmakers consumed by government funding negotiations and facing a Dec. 11 deadline, it does not appear likely that the Senate will be willing or able to consider the Democrats’ proposal before the end of the year.  

The Democrats’ floor leader did not address Obama’s call for a new authorization of use of military force directed specifically at ISIS.  

Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report .

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