Senate votes to require report on possible US military activities in Syria

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) introduced Amendment 3262, which would require the Department of Defense to submit to the congressional Defense committees a report identifying the limited military activities that could deny or degrade the ability of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to use air power against civilians and opposition groups in Syria.

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Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said he opposed the amendment because it would encourage U.S. involvement in another war in the Middle East.

“The amendment before us requires that the president submit a plan for a no-fly zone over Syria,” Paul said before the vote Tuesday. “There are many unknowns that we need to be asking ourselves before we involve ourselves in a Civil War.

“Our nation and our soldiers are weary of war. ... I hope my colleagues will not encourage a rush to war.”

But Sen. Chris Coon’s (D-Del.) a co-sponsor of the amendment said the measure would not authorize any acts of war or use of force.

“It is explicit that nothing in this section shall be considered a declaration of war or authorization of use of force,” Coons said.

McCain added that the report delivered to Congress would be classified and that Congress should know what level of involvement is possible.

Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Paul, Mike Lee (R-Utah), Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) voted against the amendment.

Final passage of the bill is expected later Tuesday evening and an amendment from Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) passed by unanimous consent after the McCain-amendment vote.

Kyl introduced Amendment 3123, which would require the Department of Defense to brief relevant congressional committees on military and strategic proposals, by either the Russian Federation or the United States, to limit or control nuclear arms, missile defense systems or long-range conventional strike systems.

Kyl said his amendment was necessary because U.S. treaties have to be approved by the Senate, and the administration sometimes doesn’t brief lawmakers before negotiating agreements, which then have to be approved by the Senate. This amendment would allow lawmakers to voice concerns before proposals by the United States are presented to Russia on arms reductions.

Amendments 2927, 3019, 3062, 3113, 3175, 3241, 3242, 3277, 3285, 3226 and 3117 we passed in a managers' package Tuesday afternoon.

Click here for more information on the amendments.