Senate panel strikes agreement on new Syria resolution

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has reached an agreement on revised language to authorize military action in Syria, Committee Chairman Robert MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezActing Defense chief calls Graham an 'ally' after tense exchange William Barr is right man for the times This week: Trump delivers State of the Union amid wall fight MORE (D-N.J.) said Tuesday.

The new use-of-force resolution, which Menendez and the panel’s ranking member, Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerSasse’s jabs at Trump spark talk of primary challenger RNC votes to give Trump 'undivided support' ahead of 2020 Sen. Risch has unique chance to guide Trump on foreign policy MORE (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.”


“With this agreement, we are one step closer to granting the president the authority to act in our national security interest,” Menendez said.

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 KerryJohn Forbes KerryWarren taps longtime aide as 2020 campaign manager In Virginia, due process should count more than blind team support Trump will give State of Union to sea of opponents MORE 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.