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Breaking down the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Syria vote

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted Wednesday to approve a resolution authorizing U.S. military action against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) takes questions from reporters Tuesday in his committee room. (The Washington Post)

The committee spent most of Wednesday debating the merits of a resolution behind closed doors and for about an hour in public.

So how did senators vote? Here's a breakdown:

Final tally: 10 to 7, with one senator voting present.

Who voted yes?: Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) (by proxy — was absent due to the Jewish holiday), Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Christopher Coons (D-Del.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.). Ranking member Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Sens. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.).

Who voted no?: Sens. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Christopher Murphy (D-Conn.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.)

Who voted present?: Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.).

Among senators facing reelection in 2014: Six senators on the committee — Shaheen, Coons, Durbin, Udall, Markey and Risch — face the voters next year. Shaheen, Coons and Durbin voted yes. Udall and Risch voted no, while Markey voted present.

Among senators mulling a 2016 presidential campaign:  Rubio and Paul are considered leading GOP contenders for president. Both of them voted against the resolution.

Vote notes: Just four days after President Obama asked Congress to formally authorize the use of U.S. military forces against the Syrian government, 18 lawmakers have now cast votes on the issue. The panel held two days of intense debate in public and behind closed doors and were generally complementary of each.

But the vote exposed deep schisms in both parties. Two of the committee's most liberal members — Udall and Murphy — voted no, while Markey, another liberal champion, declined to take a position. Among Republicans, Corker, Flake and McCain — generally considered establishment party members who have supported other Obama administration policies in recent months — agreed with the Democratic majority, while five of their GOP colleagues, including two considering presidential campaigns, voted no.

The Rubio and Paul votes are most notable and serve as the first opportunity to put potential 2016 candidates on the record on an important foreign policy matter. Their no votes likely make it difficult for other would-be GOP presidential candidates, including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), to support any resolution.

The committee vote was close — but not along party lines — a good reminder that military engagement in Syria has scrambled the two parties and two chambers like few other issues in recent years.

Follow Ed O'Keefe on Twitter: @edatpost

Ed O’Keefe is covering the 2016 presidential campaign, with a focus on Jeb Bush and other Republican candidates. He's covered presidential and congressional politics since 2008. Off the trail, he's covered Capitol Hill, federal agencies and the federal workforce, and spent a brief time covering the war in Iraq.



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