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 Sidney McCainRubio asks Army to kick out West Point grad with pro-communist posts The VA's woes cannot be pinned on any singular administration Overnight Defense: Mattis offers support for Iran deal | McCain blocks nominees over Afghanistan strategy | Trump, Tillerson spilt raises new questions about N. Korea policy MORE (R-Ariz.), a leading Senate voice on national security matters, and Sen. Chris CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsThis week: Congress gets ball rolling on tax reform Lift the Jones Act and similar restrictions for humanitarian crises Overnight Tech: White House unveils tech education initiative | Bannon reportedly sought to spy on Facebook | Uber CEO to appeal London ban | John Oliver rips AT&T-Time Warner merger 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 PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulHouse bill set to reignite debate on warrantless surveillance Authorizing military force is necessary, but insufficient GOP feuds with outside group over analysis of tax framework 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.