Senate Panel Votes in Favor of Syria Military Strike

September 4, 2013  

President Barack Obama has cleared his first hurdle in his push for a military strike in Syria.

On Wednesday afternoon (local time) a key Senate panel voted to authorize the use of force in response to a chemical attack in Damascus on August 21.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 10-7, with one senator voting present, to approve a military strike in response to the attack last month, reported Fox News.

The full Senate is expected to vote on the measure next week.

The vote came after Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) raised objections to an earlier draft which set a 60-day limit on military action in Syria, with a possibility for a single 30-day extension subject to conditions. That draft was agreed upon Tuesday night by Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee.

McCain’s objections forced lawmakers to renegotiate the measure, with the Arizona Republican ultimately winning tougher language clarifying that U.S. action would be aimed in part at changing the momentum on the ground. McCain was among the 10 who voted for the final resolution, reported Fox News.

The resolution specifically would permit Obama to order a limited military mission against Syria, as long as it doesn’t exceed 90 days and involves no American troops on the ground for combat operations.

The vote marked the first time lawmakers have voted to authorize military action since the October 2002 votes giving President George W. Bush the authority to invade Iraq.

The measure goes next to the full Senate.

The tougher climb for the Obama administration may be on the House side, where it’s still unclear whether a coalition exists to pass such a resolution.

A testy House committee hearing Wednesday on Obama’s request for authorization showed deep divisions in that chamber over the question of getting more deeply involved in the Syrian conflict. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle questioned whether a “limited” military strike could pull the U.S. into some additional military intervention.

Secretary of State John Kerry and other administration officials warned that if the U.S. does not respond to the chemical weapons strike, it would embolden America’s enemies to use chemical weapons and pursue other weapons of mass destruction.

Obama said earlier on Wednesday that the United States’ credibility, as well as that of the international community, are on the line over its response to the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

Obama spoke at a press conference in Sweden during a stopover that was intended to build support for intervention in the Middle East.

He said, “My credibility is not on the line. The international community’s credibility is on the line.”

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin, a strong supporter of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, hinted on Wednesday his country may support a UN resolution on punitive military strikes in Syria, provided that it is proved that Damascus used poison gas on its own people.

At the same time, Putin warned the West against taking one-sided action in Syria.

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