Senate panel approves resolution on Syria strikes

Senate panel approves resolution on Syria strikes

(L-R) U.S. General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry testify at a U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Syria on Capitol Hill in Washington, September 4, 2013. Photo: Reuters/Jason Reed

By Rachelle Younglai and Patricia Zengerle

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved a resolution on Wednesday authorizing a limited U.S. military intervention in Syria, setting the stage for a debate in the full Senate next week on the use of military force.

The committee voted 10-7 in favor of a compromise resolution that sets a 60-day limit on any engagement in Syria and bars the use of U.S. troops on the ground for combat operations.

The compromise is more limited than President Barack Obama’s original proposal but meets the administration’s goal of punishing Syria for what the U.S. government says is the use of chemical weapons on Syrian civilians, killing more than 1,400 people.

The authorization still faces significant resistance in Congress, where many lawmakers fear it could lead to a prolonged U.S. military involvement in Syria’s civil war and spark an escalation of regional violence.

The full Senate is expected to vote on the resolution next week. The House of Representatives also must approve the measure.

Obama and administration officials have pushed Congress to act quickly, saying U.S. national security and international credibility is at stake in the decision whether to use force in Syria to punish President Bashar al-Assad’s government for chemical weapons use.

“If we don’t take a stand here today, I guarantee you, we are more likely to face far greater risks to our security and a far greater likelihood of conflict that demands our action in the future,” Secretary of State John Kerry told the House Foreign Affairs Committee at a separate meeting on Wednesday.

“Assad will read our silence, our unwillingness to act, as a signal that he can use his weapons with impunity,” Kerry said.

The committee vote came after the two panel leaders – Democratic Chairman Robert Menendez and senior Republican Bob Corker – crafted a compromise to meet concerns from some lawmakers that Obama’s resolution was too open-ended.

Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona had objected to the more narrow wording. But the committee adopted amendments proposed by McCain with policy goals of degrading Assad’s ability to use chemical weapons, increasing support for rebel forces and reversing battlefield momentum to create conditions for Assad’s removal.

Many lawmakers have said they are worried the resolution could lead to U.S. ground troops, or “boots on the ground,” in Syria – which administration officials said would not happen.

“It’s very clear on the House side there is no support for boots on the ground,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce told Kerry at Wednesday’s hearing, which also featured testimony from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Kerry answered flatly, “There will be no boots on the ground. The president has said it again and again.”

Recent Headlines

in Local

Bus safety group calls for more caution from drivers


The New York Association for Pupil Transportation says a study about drivers passing stopped buses shows some alarming statistics.

in Local

Police: Freeville man harassed ex, forced his way inside home

anthony clarke

Anthony Clarke, 25, of Freeville, is accused by police of harassing ex on Thanksgiving, then forcing his way into home, keeping her from calling police

in Local

New law brings tougher restrictions for repeat DWI offenders


ALBANY —┬áRepeat DWI offenders will now face tougher laws in New York under a┬ápiece of legislation signed by Governor Andrew…

in Local

Public meeting Monday on Hotel Ithaca demolition, expansion

common council

Hotel Ithaca is adding five-story building with 90 rooms, demolishing west wing of hotel; public meeting starts at 5 p.m. at Ithaca City Hall

in Local

Toddler dies after assault by caretaker


Dakota Miller, 22, of Hornell, was charged with assault after child's injuries were reported; police say they'll now consider upgraded charges against Miller