Washington (CNN) - The No. 2 House Democrat said Tuesday the United States "should be considering" airstrikes in Iraq to counter the insurgency from militant groups sweeping the country.
Speaking to reporters about Iraq, Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland, blamed Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki for the deteriorating conditions in the region now.
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"He has created a very unstable and dangerous environment," Hoyer said, saying the consequences are serious for the United States and the Middle East.
"We don't want to see a situation created in Afghanistan by the Taliban where you had terrorists clearly intent on attacking the United States of America so this is not just a question of internal security in Iraq. It is a question of bases for training and deployment of attacks on the United States," he said.
If the administration does decide to pursue military airstrikes Hoyer believes President Barack Obama has the authority to do so without consulting Congress, under the Authorization for Use of Military force used to go after al Qaeda in Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi argued last week against U.S. military involvement in Iraq.
"I don't think there's any appetite in our country for us to become engaged in any more military activity in Iraq," she said.
Many House Democrats strongly opposed the U.S. military operation in the last Iraq war and have cautioned against the United States getting entangled now in what they view as a complicated sectarian struggle among multiple factions.
Send GW and Cheney in to fix their mess!
Do I care if Big Oil has to leave Iraq because it is no longer safe? NO!
Last week we killed 5 of our own people with an air strike.
How many Iraqi civilians did W kill in Iraq with airstrikes?
How many more civilians would we kill now with airstrikes?
We need to go slow and encourage the Iraqis to fight their own battles.
We make more terrorists by killing civilians than we kill, by using airstrikes.
And whatever we do for Iraq, we need to get paid for, by Iraq. Let them sell their oil to China; China sends some dollars back to us.