Amendment votes pave the way for Senate panel's action on Syria strikes

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted Wednesday afternoon to expand a use-of-force resolution by specifying the goal of U.S. military intervention in Syria should be to bolster the Free Syrian Army. 

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The successful amendment, sponsored by Sen. John McCainJohn McCainFrustrated Dems say Obama botched Russia response Coats: Trump seemed obsessed with Russia probe The Hill's Whip List: Senate ObamaCare repeal bill MORE (R-Ariz.), a leading Senate voice on national security matters, and Sen. Chris CoonsChris CoonsOvernight Regulation: Labor groups fear rollback of Obama worker protection rule | Trump regs czar advances in Senate | New FCC enforcement chief Overnight Tech: Uber CEO resigns | Trump's Iowa tech trip | Dems push Sessions to block AT&T-Time Warner deal | Lawmakers warned on threat to election systems | Senate Dem offers patent reform bill MORE (D-Del.), also states the aim of U.S. strikes should be to reduce the ability of Syrian President Bashar Assad to use chemical weapons.

The committee adopted two McCain-Coons amendments by voice vote.

One states that the U.S. strategy toward Syria should aim “to degrade the capabilities of the Assad regime to use weapons of mass destruction while upgrading the lethal and non-lethal military capabilities of vetted elements of Syrian opposition forces.” 

The second reiterated that it is U.S. policy that Assad’s departure from power, an end to violence, and a negotiated political settlement are prerequisites for regional peace and security.

The votes pave the way for the committee to pass Wednesday afternoon a resolution authorizing military force against Assad’s government.

The panel earlier voted 14-4 to table an amendment sponsored by Sen. Rand PaulRand PaulSenate Republicans reluctant to rush vote on healthcare bill Healthcare bill 'not the last step' to repealing ObamaCare, Republican says Rand Paul: 'If you offer me a 90 percent repeal, I'd probably vote for it' MORE (R-Ky.) expressing a sense of the Senate that the president does not have the power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not pose “an actual or imminent threat” to the nation.