Senate Foreign Relations panel passes Syria resolution

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday passed a resolution authorizing the use of military force in Syria.

Two Democrats -- Sens. Tom Udall (N.M.) and Chris Murphy (Conn.) -- voted no, while Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) voted present. GOP Sens. John McCain (Ariz.), Jeff Flake (Ariz.) and Bob Corker (Tenn.) voted yes.

The panel earlier rejected an attempt by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) to limit presidential authority to wage war and adopted a measure designed to bolster rebel forces fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The resolution would authorize the use of U.S. military force in Syria in response to recent alleged chemical weapons attacks against Syrian civilians. The proceedings began several hours later than scheduled, due to disagreements among senators about the wording of a new version of the resolution that would authorize U.S. military forces to strike in Syria for up to 90 days and prohibit the deployment of U.S. combat troops in the country.

As the hearing began, Paul sought to approve a "sense of the Senate" amendment to the resolution that stated that the president "does not have the power under the constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation."

But the 18-member committee voted 14 to 4 to table the amendment, agreeing Wednesday's meeting was not the proper forum to debate the broader merits of a president's constitutional authority to wage war.

Later, the committee approved an amendment by McCain that essentially says there is no point in negotiating with the Assad regime to seek a diplomatic solution to the end of violence in Syria. The amendment furthers McCain's goals of strengthening the U.S.-backed rebel groups fighting Assad, and all-but ensures the senator's support for the resolution authorizing use of military force.

The House Foreign Relations Committee held its hearing on the use of force on Wednesday.

Aaron Blake contributed to this post. Originally posted at 3:13 p.m. This post has been updated.

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