Obama's request to strike Syria passes first test in Senate

A Senate panel voted 10-7 Wednesday in favor of a resolution authorizing military force against Syria, setting up a final Senate vote as early as next week. [WATCH VIDEO]

Seven Democrats and three Republicans backed the measure, while five Republicans and two Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee opposed it.

Chairman Robert MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezEnding the Cyprus arms embargo will increase tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean We can accelerate a cure for Alzheimer's The Hill's 12:30 Report: Manafort sentenced to total of 7.5 years in prison MORE (D-N.J.) said the measure would be sent to Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidLobbying World Mitch McConnell is not invincible Seven big decisions facing Biden in 2020 primary MORE (D-Nev.) on Monday.

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Approval by the panel was expected, but the tight vote suggests a final vote in the Senate could be close. Earlier this year, the panel had voted 15-3 to arm Syrian rebels.

Menendez and Sens. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainClimate change is a GOP issue, too It's Joe Biden's 2020 presidential nomination to lose Meghan McCain on Pelosi-Trump feud: 'Put this crap aside' and 'work together for America' MORE (R-Ariz.), Barbara BoxerBarbara Levy BoxerOnly four Dem senators have endorsed 2020 candidates Hispanic civil rights icon endorses Harris for president California AG Becerra included in Bloomberg 50 list MORE (D-Calif.) Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinHouse votes to boost retirement savings On The Money: GOP angst grows over Trump's trade war | Trump promises help for 'Patriot Farmers' | Markets rebound | CBO founding director Alice Rivlin dies | Senate to vote on disaster aid bill next week Senators offer bipartisan retirement savings bill MORE (D-Md.), Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenOvernight Defense: Details on Senate's 0B defense bill | Bill rejects Trump plan to skirt budget caps | Backfills money for border wall | Defense chief says more troops could head to Mideast Senate defense bill would pull Turkey from F-35 partnership if it buys Russian missile system Trump, Europe increasingly at odds on Iran MORE (D-N.H.), Chris CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsOil companies join blitz for carbon tax Mnuchin says carbon capture tax credit guidance will be out soon Mnuchin signals administration won't comply with subpoena for Trump tax returns MORE (D-Del.), Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinSenate Democrats to House: Tamp down the impeachment talk Threat of impeachment takes oxygen out of 2019 agenda Senate Democrats request watchdog, Red Cross probe DHS detention facilities MORE (D-Ill.), Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineOvernight Defense: Details on Senate's 0B defense bill | Bill rejects Trump plan to skirt budget caps | Backfills money for border wall | Defense chief says more troops could head to Mideast Dem senator plans amendment to restrict military action against Iran Overnight Defense: Iran worries dominate foreign policy talk | Pentagon reportedly to send WH plans for 10K troops in Mideast | Democrats warn Trump may push through Saudi arms sale | Lawmakers blast new Pentagon policy on sharing info MORE (D-Va.), Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerJeff Daniels blasts 'cowardice' of Senate Republicans against Trump Corker: 'I just don't' see path to challenge Trump in 2020 Ex-GOP Sen. Corker: Trump primary would be 'good thing for our country' MORE (R-Tenn.) and Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeSen. Coons examines Amazon's privacy and data security practices for Alexa devices Oil companies join blitz for carbon tax The Hill's Morning Report - White House, Congress: Urgency of now around budget MORE (R-Ariz.) voted in favor of the resolution.

Sens. Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallOvernight Energy: Democrats push EPA to collect 4K in 'excessive' Pruitt travel expenses | Greens angered over new rules for rocket fuel chemical | Inslee to join youth climate strikers in Las Vegas Democrats push EPA to collect 4K from Pruitt for 'excessive airfare expenses' Overnight Defense: Details on Senate's 0B defense bill | Bill rejects Trump plan to skirt budget caps | Backfills money for border wall | Defense chief says more troops could head to Mideast MORE (D-N.M.), Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulOvernight Defense: 1,500 troops heading to Mideast to counter Iran | Trump cites Iran tensions to push through Saudi arms sale | Senate confirms Army, Navy chiefs before weeklong recess Trump to send 1,500 troops to Middle East to counter Iran Frustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' MORE (R-Ky.), Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioFrustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' Senate passes disaster aid bill after deal with Trump GOP senators work to get Trump on board with new disaster aid package MORE (R-Fla.), John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoTrump boxed in on trade Export-Import Bank back to full strength after Senate confirmations Mike Enzi announces he'll retire from Senate after 2020 MORE (R-Wyo.), Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonFrustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' Barr throws curveball into Senate GOP 'spying' probe Bipartisan group of senators introduce legislation designed to strengthen cybersecurity of voting systems MORE (R-Wis.), James Risch (R-Idaho) and Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyOvernight Defense: 1,500 troops heading to Mideast to counter Iran | Trump cites Iran tensions to push through Saudi arms sale | Senate confirms Army, Navy chiefs before weeklong recess Senators say Trump using loophole to push through Saudi arms sale Frustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' MORE (D-Conn.) voted against it, while Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyHillicon Valley: Assange hit with 17 more charges | Facebook removes record 2.2B fake profiles | Senate passes anti-robocall bill | Senators offer bill to help companies remove Huawei equipment Senate passes anti-robocall bill The Hill's 12:30 Report: Pelosi fires back in feud with Trump MORE (D-Mass.) voted present.

The Senate is seen as the easier chamber for President Obama to win authorization for a military strike against Syria.

In the House, he appears to face deeper rank-and-file opposition, and at a House hearing on Wednesday many more lawmakers voiced opposition to a strike than supported one.

Before its final vote, the Senate panel accepted an amendment drafted by McCain and Coons that specified that the goal of U.S. military intervention in Syria should be to bolster the Free Syrian Army.

McCain had warned earlier that he could oppose a resolution that did not put an emphasis on ending the rule of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The resolution also states that the aim of U.S. strikes should be to reduce Assad’s ability to use chemical weapons.

Menendez indicated he had been under pressure to create a resolution that did not get the U.S. into a broader mission in Syria, but that did ensure Assad would not use chemical weapons again.

Menendez argued the panel’s final product “struck the right balance” between those goals.

Durbin, the second-ranking Democrat in the Senate, said the measure “narrowly defined” what the U.S. could do in Syria militarily. An initial resolution sent to Capitol Hill by the Obama administration was criticized by Democrats for being far too broad.

Coons argued the risk of doing nothing in Syria outweighed the risk that the U.S. would wind up getting further drawn into the conflict.

Assad “will use these weapons again, and we will be less safe,” he said.

Udall, however, said Wednesday's vote put the nation on the wrong path. He argued the risk of an escalation was too great for the U.S. to get involved.

McCain, in contrast, chastised some colleagues for “micromanaging” the White House's battle plans.

“We cannot tell the president what tactics to employ” on the battlefield, McCain said.

One amendment rejected by the panel, which was offered by Udall, would have only allowed U.S. naval forces to be used in an attack against Syria.

The New Mexico Democrat also proposed language blocking American warplanes from entering Syrian airspace.

“If we go down this road, we are going to be running the [operation] from here,” McCain said.

— This story was posted at 3:44 p.m. and updated at 5:07 p.m.