WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The final text of President Barack Obama’s request to Congress for new authority to use force against Islamic State fighters is still in the works as talks with lawmakers continue, a source familiar with the White House’s outreach said on Tuesday.
The United States is leading an international coalition fighting Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, but Obama has said he would ask Congress for a formal Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) for the fight.
“The final text of the AUMF and timing for delivery will not be locked until we are able to complete these robust consultations and consider all of the feedback we have received,” said the source, who described a series of extensive discussions between White House officials and lawmakers over the past month.
Lawmakers and congressional aides said they expected to receive language from the White House as early as Wednesday giving at least an outline of what the administration would like to see in an authorization.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest, speaking to reporters at a daily briefing on Tuesday, said the language would come as early as this week but declined to give a specific date.
Both Republicans and Democrats said there had been unusually close consultations between the administration and Capitol Hill on the Islamic State AUMF.
Fueled by outrage over the death of aid worker Kayla Mueller, the last-known U.S. hostage held by Islamic State militants, as well as the slaying of journalists and a Jordanian pilot, lawmakers said they planned quick hearings on the authorization, and a vote within weeks of Congress’ return from a Feb. 16-20 recess.
“I think we ought to bring it to the floor relatively soon, which I think we could do in March,” Representative Steny Hoyer, the number two Democrat in the House of Representatives, told reporters on Tuesday.
John Cornyn, the number two Republican in the Senate, told reporters he appreciated Obama’s consultations.
“I think it’s really an important step, and I think Congress will treat it with the sort of gravity and seriousness that it deserves,” he told a news conference.
Reporting by Roberta Rampton, Patricia Zengerle and Susan Cornwell; Editing by Susan Heavey