By Kyle Balluck - 08/31/13 11:49 PM EDT
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) late Saturday said the Senate next week will debate President Obama’s request for authorization for military strikes in Syria in retaliation for alleged chemical weapons use.
"I believe the use of military force against Syria is both justified and necessary,” he added. “I believe the United States has a moral obligation as well as a national security interest in defending innocent lives against such atrocities, and in enforcing international norms such as the prohibition against the use of chemical weapons. Assad must be held accountable for his heinous acts, and the world looks to us for leadership.
Reid said he has spoken with Sen. Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J), who will convene a hearing next week to hear administration officials.
Menendez announced late Saturday that that hearing will start Tuesday, according to multiple reports.
“The mass atrocity committed by the Assad regime in grave violation of international law is searing to the soul and blinding to the eye," Menendez said in a statement earlier Saturday. "To allow a despot to gas their population indiscriminately and with impunity is to fail our values and to compromise our freedoms. There is no fork in the road before us, there is no ambiguity to the evidence, for the use of chemical weapons against the innocent brings us to a point of no return.
"The Syrian regime and others like it must understand that red lines are indelible, that our foes should never question the resolve of the United States. We say what we mean, we mean what we say, and we don't look away when undeniable war crimes are committed. I will work with the Senate leadership in support of an Authorization for Use of Military Force as expeditiously as possible."
National security officials will update senators in classified and unclassified briefings before two other panels, Reid said.
Reid said the full Senate will debate a resolution authorizing the use of “limited military force against Syria” following the hearing and briefings.
The Senate will vote on the resolution no later than the week of Sept. 9th, he added.
"The decision to take military action is not one to be taken lightly, and this decision will receive the full and open debate it deserves," Reid said.
The House will consider granting President Obama authorization to strike Syria the week of Sept. 9, House leaders said Saturday.
--This report was updated at 10:20 p.m.