A bill co-written by Sen. Bob Corker that would grant President Barack Obama authorization for a U.S. military strike in Syria was approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Wednesday, sending it to a full Senate vote in the coming days.
Corker, the ranking Republican on the committee, drafted the resolution with Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., who is chairman of the group. It was approved in a 10-7 vote, which showed nearly as much bipartisan support as it did opposition.
Corker was one of three Republican senators to support the resolution, along with Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake, both R-Ariz. Senators voting no were two Democrats and four Republicans.
The bill would authorize Obama to use force against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for 60 days, with a one-time extension of 30 days if extraordinary circumstances prevented goals of a U.S. intervention from being met. It also prohibits the use of U.S. troops on the ground in Syria and would require the White House to provide a detailed plan of support for "vetted, moderate" opposition groups.
Following the vote, Corker said he hoped the full Senate would have an open debate on the authorization. The senator and former Chattanooga mayor also said he hoped the bill as written would provide a structure to prevent the U.S. from becoming "mired down" in another Middle East war.
"None of us want the U.S. mired down in another conflict, so the committee has significantly limited the president's original authorization while still providing for an appropriate use of force in response to Assad's use of chemical weapons," Corker said in a news release. "It prevents boots on the ground, limits the duration of any military action and requires a progress report on the administration's overall Syria policy. As we now move to the full Senate, the American people deserve a full and open debate about U.S. interests in Syria."
The bill now goes to the Senate, where its fate is less certain. Corker's colleague from Tennessee, Sen. Lamar Alexander, has expressed hesitation on backing an authorization and was quoted at an event in Lebanon by Nashville news station WKRN as saying he had not yet made up his mind.
"I don't see any kind of clarity yet," he said.
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