Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the incoming chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said President Obama has to “lay out a strategy” the new Congress can help implement to fight ISIS.
He said administration officials are going to be asked to testify about the conflict.
McCain called for a strategy that shapes the budget, rather than a budget that shapes the strategy.
“We’re going to have hearings. I say, with all respect, does anybody here know what the strategy is? Now, the president has said the goal is to degrade and defeat ISIS. Does anybody here know what the strategy is to achieve that goal? So, we’re going to have to have hearings,” McCain said at the National Press Club during a discussion about his book, 13 Soldiers: A Personal History of Americans at War.
“We’re going to call them and up and say, ‘what are we going to do? How are we going to do it? How much is going to cost? What do you need to do it? I want to work with the president but the president is going to have to give us the strategy that we can help him implement and it is the job of Congress to authorize and appropriate, that’s our constitutional responsibility,” McCain added.
McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, said ISIS is the greatest challenge the U.S. faces “at least” since the end of the Cold War.
“This is a growing threat and we’re going to have to work together,” he said.
McCain also vowed to change sequestration.
“We’re now in sequestration, which is decimating and harming our military very badly. We have to change that,” he said.
During the discussion, McCain was asked for his opinion of the U.S. military’s drone program.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that many of the missions that are now conducted by manned aircraft will be conducted by drones. They can loiter for 12 hours, we’ll see the technology get better, that’s good news,” he said. “But you know, there’s a lot of other countries that are developing the same capability by the way, we haven’t got the exclusive franchise on it. So I think we will see a much greater role for drones and a much lesser role for manned aircraft.”
He also expressed some doubts about the use of drones.
“From a moral standpoint, I do have some qualms about thinking that somebody sitting behind a console rains death down on people,” he said. “It’s just something that I have a little trouble – the dispassionate detachment of that kind of warfare, it seems to me, makes it easy and attractive where that kind of thing should never be easy and attractive. So, I think we’re going to have to think our way through this new form of warfare.”
McCain was also asked if he is optimistic the Republican Congress will break the gridlock in Washington.
“We are committed to going to back to the ‘regular order’; that means bringing up bills, amendments, debates and votes,” he responded.
“I can’t blame Harry Reid anymore. I love to blame Harry Reid but I’m not going to be able to do that anymore. What we have to do if we expect to have a chance to elect a Republican president in 2016 is we have to show Americans we can govern.”