josh earnest

White House Won't Call New Syria Operations 'Combat'

Earnest answers questions about Syria. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

A White House briefing Friday turned into a debate about the definition of combat, and Press Secretary Josh Earnest criticized Congress for taking too many days off while also opting against legally authorizing operations against the Islamic State group, known as ISIS or ISIL.  

Reporters pressed Earnest, shortly after the White House announced it would send “less than 50” U.S. special operations forces to Syria, about whether being close to the fighting there — and, if necessary, participants in it — constitutes combat.  

White House Offers RX for Gun Problem: Obamacare (Video)

Earnest lauded Hillary's proposal, without endorsing it. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest offered advice to Republican presidential candidates advocating more focus on mental health to stop gun crimes: Embrace Obamacare.  

"If they say that they want to work with the administration on mental health care, and if that's the real way that we're going to stop ... these heinous acts of gun violence, then I've got some good ideas about how they can do it," Earnest told reporters at the daily briefing. "Many of them talk about the need for better mental health treatment and better mental health care for those individuals who need it," Earnest said of the current crop of presidential candidates. "One particular program that has been particularly effective in expanding access to mental health care across the country is the Affordable Care Act. So voting more than 50 times to repeal a piece of legislation that has done more to expand mental health care across the country is certainly not keeping with their commitment to want to actually address this significant problem."