White House: Iraqi lack of will to fight ‘a problem’ in past

White House spokesman Josh Earnest says Iraqi troops’ lack of will to fight Islamic State militants, an issue cited by the Pentagon chief over the weekend, has been a concern. In the wide-ranging briefing, Earnest also tells reporters the Obama administration has no backup plan if the U.S. Congress fails to act on legislation that would extend certain provisions of the USA Patriot Act.

WASHINGTON, D.C., UNITED STATES (MAY 26, 2015) (NBC) – The White House said on Tuesday (May 26) that Iraqi troops’ lack of will to fight Islamic State militants, an issue cited by the Pentagon chief over the weekend, has been a concern.

“That certainly has been a problem that we have seen in the past,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest acknowledged when asked about Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s comments on Sunday (May 24).

Carter said Iraqi forces showed no will to fight against Islamic State militants during the fall of Ramadi a week ago, and U.S. forces were trying to encourage them to engage more directly.

During the wide-ranging news briefing, Earnest also said the Obama administration has no backup plan if the U.S. Congress fails to act on legislation that would extend certain provisions of the USA Patriot Act.

“I’m not aware of any sort of plan B that exists or that is currently being contemplated,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters. “It would certainly put at grave risk these programs and could risk a lapse in some of these important national security capabilities.”

Legislation to extend provisions for two months have stalled in the Senate, leaving the fate of the country’s domestic surveillance program uncertain before its June 1 expiration. Republican U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said the chamber will return to Washington on May 31 to consider ways to prevent the expiration.

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