News

Senate panel approves resolution on Syria strikes

Senate panel approves resolution on Syria strikes

(L-R) U.S. General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry testify at a U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Syria on Capitol Hill in Washington, September 4, 2013. Photo: Reuters/Jason Reed

By Rachelle Younglai and Patricia Zengerle

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved a resolution on Wednesday authorizing a limited U.S. military intervention in Syria, setting the stage for a debate in the full Senate next week on the use of military force.

The committee voted 10-7 in favor of a compromise resolution that sets a 60-day limit on any engagement in Syria and bars the use of U.S. troops on the ground for combat operations.

The compromise is more limited than President Barack Obama’s original proposal but meets the administration’s goal of punishing Syria for what the U.S. government says is the use of chemical weapons on Syrian civilians, killing more than 1,400 people.

The authorization still faces significant resistance in Congress, where many lawmakers fear it could lead to a prolonged U.S. military involvement in Syria’s civil war and spark an escalation of regional violence.

The full Senate is expected to vote on the resolution next week. The House of Representatives also must approve the measure.

Obama and administration officials have pushed Congress to act quickly, saying U.S. national security and international credibility is at stake in the decision whether to use force in Syria to punish President Bashar al-Assad’s government for chemical weapons use.

“If we don’t take a stand here today, I guarantee you, we are more likely to face far greater risks to our security and a far greater likelihood of conflict that demands our action in the future,” Secretary of State John Kerry told the House Foreign Affairs Committee at a separate meeting on Wednesday.

“Assad will read our silence, our unwillingness to act, as a signal that he can use his weapons with impunity,” Kerry said.

The committee vote came after the two panel leaders – Democratic Chairman Robert Menendez and senior Republican Bob Corker – crafted a compromise to meet concerns from some lawmakers that Obama’s resolution was too open-ended.

Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona had objected to the more narrow wording. But the committee adopted amendments proposed by McCain with policy goals of degrading Assad’s ability to use chemical weapons, increasing support for rebel forces and reversing battlefield momentum to create conditions for Assad’s removal.

Many lawmakers have said they are worried the resolution could lead to U.S. ground troops, or “boots on the ground,” in Syria – which administration officials said would not happen.

“It’s very clear on the House side there is no support for boots on the ground,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce told Kerry at Wednesday’s hearing, which also featured testimony from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Kerry answered flatly, “There will be no boots on the ground. The president has said it again and again.”

Recent Headlines

2 hours ago in National

Trump looks to unify Republicans; Kasich reported dropping out

Fresh
17-overlay

Billionaire Donald Trump assumed the mantle of presumptive Republican presidential nominee on Wednesday with a message on unity that also suggested he was not going to work too hard to placate some party establishment figures angered by his outsider candidacy.

2 hours ago in Local

Attorney General charges Cortland County man who flooded cemetery

Fresh
Rain1

The man's water discharge project did not have a permit, and desecrated numerous graves.

2 hours ago in Local

ICSD budget will address costs of lead in water situation

Fresh
Water1

District officials say they've adjusted their plans to pay for consultants and bottled water in schools during the investigation into lead levels.

3 hours ago in Local

Paladino defeats 18-year-old in reelection bid to school board

vote

High school challenger Austin Harig took on Paladino despite the latter's experience, including a run for the governorship.

5 hours ago in Local

Tompkins County approves more funding for gorge ranger program

gorge

In 10-3 vote, Tompkins County lawmakers voted to spend $7,500 to expand program for one year to help city pay two additional gorge rangers