Walter Pincus [“With move on Syria, Senate panel oversteps its power,” Fine Print, May 23] was highly critical of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passing the Syria Transition Support Act. His wrongheaded commentary fell into an oversimplified story line that Congress is broken. Whether one supports or disagrees with the vote, it proves that bipartisanship can overcome differences.
In crafting this bill, which passed 15 to 3, the committee sought to tip the scales against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and toward groups working to build a free Syria. The bill gives the administration more flexibility to provide humanitarian aid and puts in place necessary steps in planning for a post-Assad Syria.
This agreement signifies the best of what this committee represents. Members came together to hold hearings, examine intelligence reports and consult with world leaders. In the past two years, senators traveled to the Middle East to meet with refugees and regional allies. We forged an agreement in the spirit of compromise. Our vote gives the commander in chief another option in his policy tool kit.
Mr. Pincus concluded that U.S. involvement in Syria needs a long, serious look. The committee has done that. Vital U.S. interests are at stake, including Middle East stability and the need to secure chemical weapons and to deny a haven for extremists. I hold former senator J.W. Fulbright (D-Ark.) and his foreign policy successes in the highest of esteem, and I am convinced that he, too, would have supported this process. With more than 80,000 dead, millions displaced and instability rising in the region, it’s time to move from examination to action.
Robert Menendez, Washington
The writer, a Democrat from New Jersey, is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.