On February 11, 2015, President Obama formally requested Congress for an Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) against the Islamic State. The draft AUMF would limit the President’s authority by allowing military involvement in the war to span a maximum of three years. In response to the draft, Republican Senator Rob Portman stated, "I think it's wrong for the commander in chief to tie his own hands." Like Portman, many Congressional members of the GOP, especially the Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee, are willing to grant the President more power than requested in the initial draft AUMF that the White House submitted. This is quite ironic since the GOP finally dominates Congress and considering the party has scorned Obama throughout his presidency, but the GOP is strategically granting Obama power in hopes of taking control of the White House again.
Due to unfavorable demographic shifts across the nation, the road back to the White House for the GOP isn't too promising. For this reason, it would be reasonable to assume that the party would want to retain the power it has in the most Republican-dominated Congress in many years. Except, when conflict goes south during war, Congress wishes to take no responsibility. As seen after conflict in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, Congressional members were not re-elected because they were blamed for the conflict and the GOP ultimately lost a lot of power. So what is the GOP’s solution towards conflict with the Islamic State? It's to put the responsibility in the Democratic executive branch.
Yet, even though the GOP seems to agree with Obama on matters of war and trade, the party scorns the President on matters of health care and immigration. This is because matters of health care and immigration are domestic issues that the American public is strongly opinionated on, but matters of war and trade deal with foreign policy that affects the American people much less and receives less attention. For this reason, the GOP can afford to side with the President on his request for an AUMF without jeopardizing public opinion of the party as much.
Now, this point may seem very cynical towards the GOP, but I believe that the President’s desire to have authorization to be involved against the Islamic State is also partially motivated by his own political interests. Obama’s presidency isn’t going to go down in the history books as glorious as he had hoped for, which is why he's looking for a major accomplishment towards the end of his time in office. And what could be more glorious than being responsible for defeating the ruthless Islamic State?