Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Florida) said Tuesday he will introduce legislation next week that would authorise President Barack Obama to carry out airstrikes against the group calling itself the Islamic State (also ISIS or ISIL) in Syria.
“This will ensure there’s no question that the president has the legal authority he needs to use airstrikes in Syria,” Nelson said in a statement. “Let there be no doubt, we must go after ISIS right away because the U.S. is the only one that can put together a coalition to stop this group that’s intent on barbaric cruelty.”
Nelson, a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he would introduce the legislation next week, when Congress returns from a five-week recess. It will likely come as an amendment to the larger defence budget bill.
He announced the planned legislation in the wake of the apparent execution of American journalist Steven Sotloff, the second American journalist to be killed by the group in less than two weeks. Sotloff was a South Florida native who had been freelancing for Time magazine and Foreign Policy, among other publications, at the time of his kidnapping near the Syrian border.
Obama has already authorised limited airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq. To date, according to the U.S. military’s Central Command, the U.S. has carried out a total of 123 airstrikes against the group in Iraq since Aug. 8. The White House says the airstrikes in Iraq have been carried out pursuant to Obama’s authority as commander in chief.
Obama has not authorised any specific action against the group in Syria, but many of his top military advisers have recommended such action be part of a larger plan to confront the group. In a remark that earned him a heap of criticism, Obama said last week that “we don’t have a strategy yet” to confront ISIS in Syria.
After Sotloff’s killing, lawmakers from both parties urged Obama to take swift action.
“Condemnation is not enough to deal with this scourge,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said in a statement. “It is time we act decisively against ISIL wherever it resides. Whenever American air power has been employed, in coordination with reliable partners on the ground, ISIL has been devastated. It’s a tactic that should be aggressively pursued both in Syria and Iraq.”
“Mr. President, if you can’t come up with a strategy, at least tell us what the goal is regarding ISIL.”
Congressional aides on both sides of the aisle believe any action against ISIS in Syria would earn congressional support, provided Obama lays out a clear strategy and goal for the airstrikes.
Sotloff is the second American journalist brutally executed by ISIS in less than two weeks. On Aug. 20, the group released a video showing the execution of James Foley during which they also promised to execute Sotloff if the U.S. did not cease airstrikes against the group in Iraq.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.