Middle East/North Africa

Dem senators float Syria proposal giving Assad 45-day deadline

Two Senate Democrats are circulating an alternative resolution on military intervention in Syria that would give President Bashar Assad’s regime a 45-day window to avoid a strike if it signs a chemical weapons ban.

{mosads}Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) drafted the resolution after the Foreign Relations Committee earlier this week approved a separate proposal on a narrow vote, according to reports

In addition to the ultimatum presented to Assad, the resolution would also require the president to present a “long term strategy” on Syria to prevent the use of chemical weapons. 

Manchin came out against the resolution passed in committee earlier this week and hinted that he would be seeking an alternative. 

“Given the case that has been presented to me, I believe that a military strike against Syria at this time is the wrong course of action,” he said. “In good conscience, I cannot support the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s resolution and will be working with my colleagues and the administration to develop other options.”

In a 10-7 vote, the Foreign Relations Committee authorized a limited 60-day strike with the option to extend it. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) inserted language that would call for the administration to change the military equation in the country to help end the conflict. A proposal is expected to be voted on in the full Senate next week.

Democratic opponents of the resolution have called for a stronger diplomatic push before resorting to military action, which the new draft addresses. 

“The failure by the government of Bashar al-Assad to sign and comply with the [Chemical Weapons] Convention clearly demonstrates a disregard of international norms on the use of chemical weapons. If the Government of Syria does not sign the Convention within 45 after the date of the enactment of this resolution, all elements of national power will be considered by the United States government,” read a draft obtained by The Washington Post

“Not later than 45 days after the date of the enactment of this resolution, the President shall submit to Congress a long term strategy for Syria, while concurrently using all appropriate diplomatic tools to develop and secure commitments from the international community with the shared strategic interest of preventing the proliferation and use of Syria’s chemical weapons.”

Manchin teamed up earlier this year with Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) to hash out a universal background check proposal for gun buyers as part of a larger gun control package that ultimately failed. 

Tags Heidi Heitkamp Joe Manchin John McCain

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