Top 10 National Policy Issues

The terrorist organization known as ISIS, which stands for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, also referred to as ISIL (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) or IS (the Islamic State), is a Salafi jihadist militant group that follows the Wahhabi doctrine of Sunni Islam.1,2  ISIS’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was born in Samarra, Iraq, and was captured by U.S. forces in 2005 while leading a Sunni militant group.3  During his four-year detainment at Camp Bucca, he developed associations with several al Qaeda commanders.3  As part of an agreement with the Iraqi government, the U.S. released Baghdadi to the Iraqis who quickly released him.3  As he was being released, Baghdadi reportedly told his U.S. guards, “I’ll see you guys in New York.”3 

Following the destabilizing civil uprising in Syria, ISIS seized territory in Syria and quickly began taking over territory in Iraq, establishing an Islamic-fundamentalist Caliphate in the areas it controlled.  In 2014, ISIS reportedly controlled 35% of Syrian territory, including nearly all of Syria’s oil and gas fields, and large portions of western and northern Iraq, to include Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city.4  Reports of brutality from ISIS controlled territory have been unspeakable, to include burning people alive, drowning people in cages, and turning young women into sex slaves for the ISIS fighters.  Their brutality has led to a mass exodus of refugees, creating a humanitarian crisis the world has not seen since WWII and exhausting the resources of countries who have taken in the refugees. 

The U.S. has led bombing missions and surgical strikes by Special Operations Forces, but the actions taken thus far have produced less than optimal results.  The air strikes against ISIS are largely ineffective without friendly forces on the ground to positively identify ISIS locations and distinguish the ISIS fighters from noncombatants.  Of greatest concern to the United States is ISIS using the Caliphate to plan 9/11 style attacks on its homeland, similar to how Usama Bin Laden used Taliban controlled territory to plan his attacks.  Advocates for employing U.S. ground forces argue that a true coalition requires U.S. leadership and forces to be effective.  Opponents of employing U.S. ground forces fear being pulled into another long occupation of the Arabian Peninsula after the enormous financial and human costs the country endured during the decade after the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

1ISIS or ISIL? The Debate Over What to Call Iraqs' Terror Group
2Why ISIS is a Threat to Saudi Arabia
3Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
4Syrian Fighters Killed in Biggest ISIS Operation

Congressional Record – House
July 8, 2015
Does the U.S. Have a Plan to Defeat ISIS?

Congressional Record – House
September 20, 2016
Stop ISIS’s Growing Empire of Evil

Congressional Record – House
July 7, 2016
ISIS is a Real Threat

H.Res.814 — Calling on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to invoke Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty and conduct a military campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)
114th Congress (2015-2016)
Sponsor: Rep. Young, Todd C. [R-IN-9]
Introduced 07/07/2016
Cosponsors: (2) Committees: House - Foreign Affairs
Latest Action: 07/07/2016 Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Summary:  Condemns ISIS, its ideology, its past attacks, and its ongoing campaign of atrocities.
Calls upon the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to:

  1. Invoke Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty and declare that the ISIS attacks against France, Belgium, the United States, and Turkey represent attacks against all NATO members.
  2. Organize and conduct a military campaign against ISIS with the objective of the destruction of the terrorist organization.
  3. Increase information and intelligence sharing between NATO members with the goal of improving Counterterrorism (CT) capabilities and operations.
  4. Increase coordination and information sharing with the European Union; and
  5. Reassess its CT strategy in order to more effectively address the threat from ISIS.
    Calls upon all NATO members to participate in combat operations against ISIS in Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere as needed.

Reaffirms the U.S. commitment to supporting the NATO alliance and destroying ISIS.

H.Res.682 — Urging the Department of State to provide necessary equipment and training to the men and women of the Kurdish Peshmerga in the fight against the ISIS
114th Congress (2015-2016).
Sponsor: Rep. Ros-Lehtinen, Ileana [R-FL-27]
(1) Committees: House - Foreign Affairs

Summary:  Urges the Department of State to provide:

  1. Equipment and training to the men and women of the Kurdish Peshmerga in the fight against ISIS, and
  2. Assistance to the Kurdistan Regional Government to assist in meeting the needs of the internally displaced persons and refugee populations.

Encourages the Peshmerga to continue and redouble their efforts to protect minorities who are fleeing persecution in Iraq and Syria.

S.2377 — Defeat ISIS and Protect and Secure the United States Act of 2015
114th Congress (2015-2016)
Sponsor: Sen. Reid, Harry [D-NV]
(21) Committees: Senate - Judiciary

Summary:  This bill directs the President to designate a person to coordinate federal government and international partner efforts to defeat ISIS.

The President may prohibit, or impose strict conditions on, the opening or maintaining in the United States of a correspondent account or a payable-through account by a foreign financial institution that knowingly facilitates a significant transaction for ISIS.

The Director of National Intelligence shall review each intelligence sharing agreement between the United States and a foreign country experiencing a significant ISIS threat or participating in the anti-ISIS coalition.

The President shall:

  1. Design programs to counter violent extremism abroad; and
  2. Develop as part of the National Strategy for Counterterrorism  (CT) a comprehensive strategy to counter ISIS propaganda, including through online activities.

The Department of State shall make CT funding available for programs that strengthen governance and security in fragile nation states that share a border with a country that ISIS or other violent extremists have threatened to destabilize or delegitimize.

The President may give technical and operational assistance for the European Union and its member states to:

  1. Improve border management, including migrant screening; and
  2. Enhance intelligence sharing.

The bill authorizes funds for emergency and life-saving assistance, including care of internally displaced persons in Syria and Iraq and mitigation of the outflow of refugees to Lebanon and Jordan.

H.R.1568 — Protecting Religious Minorities Persecuted by ISIS Act of 2015
114th Congress (2015-2016)
Sponsor: Rep. Vargas, Juan [D-CA-51] (Introduced 03/24/2015) Cosponsors: (43) Committees: House - Judiciary, Foreign Affairs
Latest Action: 04/21/2015 Referred to the Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security.

Summary:  This bill directs the Secretary of State to establish or use existing refugee processing mechanisms in Iraq and in other countries through which aliens from Iraq or Syria who have been persecuted, or have a credible fear of being persecuted, by ISIS, or a similar group, based on gender or religious or ethnic membership may apply directly to the United States Refugee Admissions Program for priority to refugee admission to the U.S.

          Visit for more legislative action regarding ISIS.

Issue Topic


Polling question

Should the U.S. commit ground forces (in addition to Special Operations Forces) to destroy ISIS?

Yes, Strongly Agree
Yes, Agree
Neutral / No opinion
No, Disagree
No, Strongly Disagree


President Trumps has been steadfast in his position to destroy ISIS.  However, he has made conflicting statements about utilizing U.S. ground forces to combat ISIS.  Trump has been very reluctant to provide details on how he would defeat ISIS.  He states his ambiguity is purposeful, criticizing past administrations for telegraphing their plans to the enemy.

The following is from Republican Views on the Issues:

Trump stated that he supports the use of U.S. ground troops to fight ISIS.  He believes that only U.S. troops are strong enough and skilled enough to bring down the organization, and that ground troops are needed to achieve the defeat of ISIS. Trump told MSNBC, “I would knock out the source of their wealth, the primary sources of their wealth, which is oil. And in order to do that, you would have to put boots on the ground. I would knock the hell out of them, but I’d put a ring around it and I’d take the oil for our country.” Trump also believes that this can only be accomplished by finding the strongest ground troops out there to send in, stating, “I would hit them so hard. I would find you a proper general, I would find the Patton or MacArthur. I would hit them so hard your head would spin.”

President Trump also stated that he would be in favor of partnering with Russia to defeat ISIS.  Trump stated, ”If Putin goes in there and if he is able to knock out ISIS, which he has a big reason to do it because he doesn’t want them coming into other places, if goes in and knocks out ISIS to me that’s not the worst thing I have ever heard of.”

Critics of Trump's ISIS policy cite that Russia is aligned with Syria's President Assad.  Assad is battling against U.S. backed resistance fighters, and has enlisted Russian military support to attack these groups.  Therefore, critics contest that forming an alliance with Assad is in direct conflict with the stabilization of Syria, as well as U.S. regional interests.

War Powers Resolution (War Powers Act of 1973)

U.S. Constitution
     Article 1 - The Legislative Branch
     Section 8 - Powers of Congress

The Congress shall have Power:

  • To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;
  • To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;
  • To provide and maintain a Navy;
  • To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces; provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;
  • To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress.

National results

Total Middle School and High School Respondents: 3

Total Voting Age Respondents: 27

Issue Poll Summary:

Political followings



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