Senate moving on from Syria resolution — for now

September 11, 2013

The Senate is formally dropping consideration of a resolution authorizing U.S. military force in Syria and deferring instead to diplomatic attempts to end the crisis.

"We've agreed on a way forward based on the president's speech last night," Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) announced on the Senate floor Wednesday afternoon.

While Secretary of State John F. Kerry travels to Geneva on Thursday for talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Reid said the Senate would move on so as "not to tread water" on the Syrian issue and begin debating a bipartisan energy efficiency bill that has been waiting for consideration for months.

But talks on the wording of a new Syria resolution will continue among members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and other senior senators who are often involved in foreign affairs and military policy.

“We have a very broad cross-section of the senate – Democrats and Republicans – and this action is likely to create a stronger foundation for the use of support of force should it be necessary," said Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), who chairs the foreign relations panel.

The talks will continue in order "to keep in consonance in case there’s an effort to remove the chemical weapons from Bashar Assad," said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who added that the resolution likely would lay out potential timelines and conditions.

“I think we’ll know in a couple of days" whether we have to act, McCain said.

Several senators said they were hopeful that the Obama administration would be able to end the stalemate through diplomatic means.

"I’m very skeptical  of Putin’s credibility, Assad’s credibility and the UN’s ability to execute this kind of resolution. However, I do think that the president should be given the opportunity," said Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.). "If we could get Assad with verification to give up the chemical weapons, I don’t know who would be against that. It makes sense for the world."

Follow Ed O'Keefe on Twitter: @edatpost

Ed O’Keefe is a congressional reporter with The Washington Post and covered the 2008 and 2012 presidential and congressional elections.
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