Congressional Republicans ripped President Obama for failing to come up with a plan to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) after he accused them of exaggerating the terror threat in his final State of the Union address.
“We don’t have them contained. We don’t have a strategy for defeating ISIL, and that concerns me,” Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) told The Hill after Tuesday night’s speech, using another acronym for the terrorist group. “The prospects are pretty grim right now.”
Rep. Roger Williams (R-Texas) said he, too, was baffled at Obama’s attempts to downplay the threat from ISIS.“He made a comment that America is not under attack, that terrorists aren’t attacking here. Well, they are,” Williams said in an interview. “The enemies are attacking. They attacked at Chattanooga, they attacked in California, they attacked in my district at Fort Hood.
“They are on the attack, and we did nothing but open the door for them.”
Speaking to a joint session of Congress, Obama hit Republicans for giving ISIS too much credit.
The terror group has claimed responsibility for last year's deadly attacks in Paris, and it inspired a massacre of 14 people in San Bernardino, Calif. An ISIS suicide bomber killed 10 tourists in Istanbul on Tuesday.
“As we focus on destroying ISIL, over-the-top claims that this is World War III just play into their hands,” Obama said. “Masses of fighters on the back of pickup trucks and twisted souls plotting in apartments or garages pose enormous danger to civilians and must be stopped.
“But they do not threaten our national existence.”
As he’s done before, Obama called on Congress to authorize the use of military force against ISIS, but many Republicans are reluctant to give the lame-duck president new war powers.
“Take a vote,” Obama said.
But in statement after statement after the address, Republicans said Obama lacked any coherent strategy to take on ISIS.
“He didn't have an answer for how to defeat” ISIS, said Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).
“If the president honestly believes the world is a more ‘secure’ and ‘peaceful’ place and Americans should feel more confident about their children’s futures, he’s the only one who thinks so,” chimed in Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.), a member of the special committee investigating the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attacks.
Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.), a member of the Homeland Security Committee, called Obama’s remarks on ISIS a “huge contradiction.”
“When we have attacks going on within our border under the name of radical Islamic faith, that’s something that needs to be addressed,” Walker told The Hill. “I’m not saying it’s World War III, but to dismiss it like he did was preposterous.”