By Jeremy Herb
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has reached an agreement on revised language to authorize military action in Syria, Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) said Tuesday.
The new use-of-force resolution, which Menendez and the panel’s ranking member, Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), agreed to, states that U.S. forces “will not be deployed for combat operations in Syria.”
The resolution authorizes the use of force for 60 days, and allows the president to extend for another 30 days.
Menendez late Tuesday announced the agreement, which could receive a vote in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as early as Wednesday.
The chairman said in a statement that the updated Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) in Syria was “narrow and focused” and “limited in time.”
The agreement will replace language that had been drafted by the Obama administration over the weekend after President Obama said that he would seek congressional approval for limited military strikes in Syria.
Lawmakers complained that the administration’s language was overly broad and left open the possibility of an open-ended in conflict.
The possibility of having U.S. “boots on the ground” in Syria was a major element of the Foreign Relations Committee’s Syria hearing Tuesday, after Secretary of State John Kerry briefly suggested a scenario in which U.S. troops might have to keep chemical weapons out of the hands of al Qaeda-affiliated groups.
Kerry quickly backtracked and said he wanted to be “crystal clear” the administration would agree to editing the Syria resolution so that U.S. troops have “no capacity” in Syria’s civil war.
It’s unclear whether the Foreign Relations Committee resolution includes an exception for U.S. Special Operations missions in Syria.
In the House, Reps. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Gerry Connelly (D-Va.) were circulating a draft resolution that would prohibit U.S. forces on the ground, limit the operation to 60 days, and limit the military action beyond the initial punitive strikes unless the president certifies that Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime once again used chemical weapons.
--This report was updated at 9:35 p.m.