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Congresswoman Karen Bass

Representing the 37th District of California

KPCC: California lawmakers have mixed response to Obama's Islamic militant strategy

September 11, 2014
In The News

Members of California's Congressional delegation had a mixed response to President Barack Obama strategy for dealing with Islamic militants, which he unveiled in a speech to the nation Wednesday night.  Obama said he'll use airstrikes and send trainers and equipment to the region.

Here's a round up of reaction from some members of California's Congressional delegation: 

Rep. John Campbell, a Republican from Irvine, wishes Obama had gone further, calling the militants an army, not a terrorist group, with materiel, finances and the ability to capture land and hold onto it. "I’m afraid, as many other people are, that this will require more than just airstrikes." He’d support boots on the ground.

Rep. Ed Royce, a Republican from Fullerton who heads the House Foreign Affairs Committee, says infantry soldiers are the responsibility of the Kurdish and Arab forces who live in the region. "We can support them with air support," he says, "we’re good at that. But you know, in terms of ground forces, no." He says we need to get anti tank missiles and other equipment quickly to the region.

Rep. Adam Schiff, a Democrat from Glendale who sits on the House Intelligence Committee,  is glad one thing was left off the table: a major aerial campaign in Syria, which he calls "premature at best." Schiff says there’s neither sufficient intelligence nor ground forces in Syria, though he adds the oil infrastructure may be a “worthwhile target.”

Rep. Janice Hahn, a Democrat from San Pedro, approves of sending Secretary of State John Kerry to the Middle East to round up support from Arab leaders. She’s glad for the coalition, saying she knows that “we have a responsibility in this world, but I just didn’t feel we should take this one on by ourselves.”

Rep. Brad Sherman, a Democrat from Sherman Oaks, worries about what happens next if the Islamic State is effectively put out of business. He says it’s not just who you destroy, "but who you empower through that destruction. And the enemies of ISIS are almost as evil as ISIS itself." 

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican from Huntington Beach, says the “real strategy for long-term peace” is permitting Iraq to split up, and allow the Kurds to have an independent state. “The Shiite and Sunni areas of Iraq would eventually calm down if there was at least one anchor of stability there.”

Both Schiff and Sherman wish the President had actually asked for Congressional approval before proceeding.

Rep. Karen Bass, a Democrat from Los Angeles, was cynical about the chances of a clean vote, given the current bitterness on Capitol Hill. "I don’t know what they would have done with a piece of legislation authorizing intervention," she says. "They (Republicans) probably would have included the repeal of Obamacare."

Congress is being asked to approve funding for arming and training Iraqi troops. Lawmakers predict early and quick passage on the Hill. 

This article was originally published by scpr.org.