President Obama formally asked Congress Wednesday to authorize the use of military force against the Islamic State, a group also known as ISIS or ISIL. Though U.S. airstrikes have gone after the group since last summer, congressional approval would bolster the administration's legal war authority.
Both Florida senators, Democrat Bill Nelson and Republican Marco Rubio, support Obama's request.
"Any group barbaric enough to behead and burn innocent people and bring about the death of a humanitarian worker deserves to be crushed," Nelson said in a statement Wednesday morning, referring to the recently confirmed death of Kayla Mueller of Arizona.
Nelson is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee who last year filed legislation that would have authorized airstrikes against ISIS in Syria. He noted Wednesday that Obama's request has some similarities to Nelson's proposal. Obama didn't rule out ground troops, though he said they would be used in "limited circumstances." His request would expire in three years.
Rubio said on the Senate floor Wednesday afternoon that he would back even broader authorization, without limiting the president's time frame or tactics, which the senator said would be unwise given changing ground conditions. Rubio has burnished his foreign-policy credentials in the Senate, a likely campaign plank for him if he ends up running for president.
"There is a simple authorization Obama should ask for. One sentence: We authorize the president to defeat ISIL. Period," Rubio said. More than once, he noted authorization would also extend to the next president.
Rubio called it "good news" that Obama had asked Congress for approval, though he said it was belated. "I wish we had taken this group on earlier," he said.