Women in the U.S. Senate, including Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin, wrote the president backing U.S. action to help find the 276 girls kidnapped by Islamic extremists in Nigeria.
"Boko Haram has threatened to sell the girls as slaves, and some may have already been sold into child marriages," the women senators wrote to President Barack Obama. "We condemn these appalling actions in the strongest possible terms, and we agree with you that the abduction of these girls is an outrage. The girls were targeted by Boko Haram because they wanted to go to school and pursue knowledge, and we believe the United States must respond quickly and definitively."
The senators urged further sanctions against Boko Haram, described in the letter as "a threat to innocent civilians in Nigeria, to regional security, and to U.S. national interests."
They continued, "While we applaud the initial U.S. condemnation of the kidnapping, we believe there is much more that the U.S. government should do to make clear that such an attack will not be tolerated."
The names at the top of the signature list: Barbara Mikulski and Susan Collins.
The president said on May 6 that the United States would do all it can to help find the girls kidnapped three weeks ago from school.
"In the short term our goal is obviously is to help the international community, and the Nigerian government, as a team to do everything we can to recover these young ladies," Obama said in an interview with NBC's "Today."
"But we're also going to have to deal with the broader problem of organizations like this that ... can cause such havoc in people's day-to-day lives," Obama said of Boko Haram.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said the U.S. is sending technical experts to Nigeria — military and law enforcement personnel skilled in intelligence, investigations, hostage negotiating, information sharing and victim assistance — but not military troops.