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Posted on Fri. Sep. 05, 2014 - 12:30 am EDT

Senators support airstrikes on ISIL

But Coats, Donnelly urge Congress’ OK

U.S. senators from Indiana support continuing U.S. military attacks against Islamic extremists in Iraq, but they want President Barack Obama to obtain approval from Congress.

“Any new congressional authorization for the use of force could be considered once the plan is clear,” Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., said this week in an email to The Journal Gazette.

“I support targeted air strikes to weaken ISIS and protect innocent lives,” Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., said in an email. “I also believe, however, that the President’s ability to respond forcefully and effectively to protect American interests would be strengthened even further by seeking authorization from Congress.”

Donnelly is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Coats is a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Obama used his executive authority to order airstrikes for several days in August against the Islamic State militant group, known variously as ISIL or ISIS, whose forces had swept across a Kurdish region in northern Iraq. The U.S. launched more airstrikes last weekend.

A congressional Authorization for Use of Military Force allows the executive branch to carry out attacks without a declaration of war.

Coats called for intervention against the Islamic State in June, saying the U.S. “should have headed ’em off at the pass” before the militants grabbed control of cities in Iraq. A week ago, he told the Wall Street Journal that federal lawmakers were “waiting on a plan” from the White House for addressing extremist violence in the Middle East.

In a recent op-ed piece, Coats wrote: “The current bombing campaign against ISIS targets should be continued. However, it needs to be placed in a proper strategic framework, with a firm foundation and defined purpose.”

He wrote that the U.S. military “must not become the Iraqi Air Force. We must define our own objectives better and act accordingly with vigor and purpose.”

Coats said the U.S. military should expand its bombing campaign to the group’s bases in Syria, and he called for a reassessment of visa waivers in an effort to prevent fighters from entering this country.

Donnelly also is worried about the threat ISIL poses to Americans.

“ISIS, through both their words and actions, has made it clear that they view the United States and our citizens as an enemy and a target in their campaign of violent extremism,” he said in his email.

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