House Republicans on Thursday appeared poised to hold off on a legislative plan to address the growing threat of Islamic militants in the Middle East, despite calls by some conservatives to pass a bill authorizing military action.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who ascended to the number-two leadership post in late July, told fellow GOP lawmakers in a memo that the House will continue “aggressive oversight work,” such as hearings and briefings with White House officials and military experts, but there is no immediate plan to take up legislation giving President Obama the green light to bomb Syria, a stronghold for the terrorist group.
Congress returns Sept. 8 and will be in session 12 days before a planned Oct. 2 adjournment for the campaign season.
McCarthy listed several bills the House plans to take up in the remaining days, including a bill to keep the government running after the current budget expires on Sept. 30. But none of the bills listed address the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, known as ISIS, who are threatening the stability of the region and recently beheaded two American journalists.
McCarthy instead pledged to “take the appropriate steps necessary” to defeat the terrorists, but said Obama had to act first.
“The American people need to hear plainly from the President about the nature of the threat and his strategy to confront it,” McCarthy said in the memo.
The memo comes as a slow trickle of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have started calling for the House and Senate to debate and vote on measures concerning Obama’s ability to expand U.S. military action in the region.
On Thursday, Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, joined the list, calling for “a debate and public vote” on taking further military action.
Some House and Senate Democrats are also calling for Congressional approval.
Both parties, however, appear willing to wait for Obama to ask for authorization first.
In the meantime, McCarthy told Republicans, the House will vote on a bill that packages legislation the House passed already, but which the Senate, ruled by Democrats, has refused to take up.
Those bills include a measure that redefines the full time work week under Obamacare as 40 hours, not 30 hours, which will reduce the employer mandate's reach.
Other measures would reduce government regulations and renew some tax credits aimed at helping businesses.
The House will also take up a slew of energy production measures, including a bill that would speed up the exportation of liquid natural gas.
The memo from McCarthy excludes any mention of legislation to repeal or replace the health care law, but there will be a vote on a measure authored by Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-La., who is running to defeat Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., that would allow people with individual health plans to keep those policies even if they fall short of the required coverage under Obamacare.