The 10-7 vote carries the measure to a full Senate voteWhite House
A US Senate panel has voted to authorize use of force in response to last week’s deadly chemical weapons attack in Syria ahead of a Congress vote next week, as domestic support for a US-led military operation grows.
The measure prevents deploying US troops on the ground, and sets a 60-day time limit for operations, with a possible 30-day extension.
Foreign Relations Committee’s approval comes as a further indication for the broad backing President Obama seeks to have in Congress, after he received support from several key Republican leaders, including House Speaker John Boehner.
Congress will reconvene on Monday next week, when a vote is expected to portray MPs’ final decision on President Obama’s plan.
White House spokesperson Jay Carney praised the rapid move by the Senate committee.
The resolution would “uphold America’s national security interests by degrading Assad’s chemical weapons capability and deterring the future use of these weapons,” Carney said in a statement.
State Secretary John Kerry had testified on Wednesday in front of the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee along with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Chief of Staff General Martin Dempsey.
“I think the three of us sitting here understand that plea as well as any people in this country. Let me be clear: We are not asking America to go to war,” Kerry said.
– ‘War weariness’
Meanwhile, experts think Congress will probably say “yes” on Syria, but it still may not be an easy sell to all Americans.
“Clearly there are no angels to choose from in Syria. This is a vicious civil war in which more than 100,000 people have been killed,” American professor and author John Metzler told the Anadolu Agency.
“For two reasons President Obama is wise to do this. First the US constitution. Second, and this is why he is actually doing it even for a short duration military action, he sees the low public support for such an operation among the American people, and a general war weariness even among the political class,” he said.
“Should something go wrong, the President will then say, ‘Well, we went forward into Syria with bipartisan Congressional approval’,” said Metzler, long serving professor of International Relations at Saint John’s University in New York City and author of the book “Transatlantic Divide: USA/Euroland Rift?” (University Press, 2010).
But “if Congress votes down an attack on Syria, as the British Parliament did, obviously the President would be reckless to pursue the policy,” Metzler said.
“I think the Republican Party will step up and do the right thing and support the President against a chemical-weapons-using, terror-sponsoring, Iran-backed dictator,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press“.
Although not unified, and with 233 Republicans, 200 Democrats and only two vacant seats, the House of Representatives can offer President Obama significant support from both sides, this time led by his political opponents at Capitol Hill.
As part of the accelerating activities in the same direction, National Security Adviser Susan Rice, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Martin Dempsey — also briefed House Democrats on an unclassified conference call.