WASHINGTON A key Senate committee vote on the use of force against Syria could be delayed into the weekend, despite a bipartisan proposal that would greatly curtail President Obama's authority to wage an "open-ended war."
Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., the lead Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Wednesday that he's working to allay senators' concerns about the wording of the resolution. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who said Monday after a meeting at the White House that he supported military action against Syria, said Wednesday that he did not support the committee's draft language. "In it's current form I do not," McCain said, according to the Associated Press. McCain has argued for a broader U.S. support of the Syrian opposition forces, not simply limited missile strikes against the government.
"I've been on the phone until late last night and beginning early this morning. And again, hopefully we're going to have a good day today," Corker said.
A session of the committee was scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, and Chairman Robert Menendez, D-N.J., hoped to have a vote. Corker said the vote could be delayed and senators could return Friday despite the Jewish holiday and "may be here over the weekend."
"I know there's an attempt to get this to the floor as soon as possible," Corker said, "but at the same time, as we've all said I mean, this is one of the biggest issues any senator will ever weigh in on, and let's make sure we do this the right way."
Menendez and Corker agreed to a draft resolution Tuesday that would put a 60- to 90-day time limit on Syria operations, narrow the conflict to Syria's borders and prohibit U.S. troops on Syrian soil. That language emerged after Obama administration officials spent more than three hours trying to persuade senators that Syria's use of chemical weapons against civilians merited a forceful response via U.S. missile strikes.
Wednesday morning, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey held a closed hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee to discuss preparations for an attack.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)