The Senate Committee On Foreign Relations voted on Wednesday to give President Barack Obama the power to a launch a limited military attack to punish Syria for using chemical weapons.
The vote was 10-7. It marked the first time in more than a decade — since a 2002 resolution that preceded the Iraq war — that members of Congress have voted to authorized military action.
The resolution, which could be voted on by the full Senate as early as next week, forbids Obama from using ground troops in Syria and allows the military response to last no longer than three months.
The yes votes comprised seven Democrats and three Republicans, including Sen. John McCain, who had expressed ...view middle of the document...
Hagel estimated the cost of a limited strike at tens of millions of dollars.
Kerry said American inaction would “live in infamy,” and he drew analogies to black marks of history — the appeasement of Adolf Hitler before World War II and the U.S.’ refusal to accept a boat full of Jewish refugees from Germany in 1939.
“There are moments when you have to make a decision,” he said. “And I think this is one of those moments.”
Asked in Sweden whether he would strike Syria even if Congress votes down a resolution authorizing military force, President Obama said: “I believe that Congress will approve it.”
He added: “I do not believe that I was required to take this to Congress, but I did not take this to Congress just because it’s an empty exercise. I think it’s important to have Congress’ support on it.” The president said he was mindful that memories of the Iraq war were fresh, particularly in Europe.
“Keep in mind I’m somebody who opposed the war in Iraq, and am not interested in repeating mistakes of us basing decisions on faulty intelligence,” he said. “But having done a thoroughgoing evaluation of the information that is currently available, I can say with high confidence that chemical weapons were used.”
On Tuesday, some Republicans, and in an unusual move House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, lent their support to a limited attack on the Syrian government for using poison gas against rebels outside the Syrian capital Aug. 21.
The resolution would limit American involvement to two months, with a possible one-month extension, and would bar the use of ground forces. The administration has said punishing Syria would not mean putting “boots on the ground.”
“The president is not asking you to go to war,” Kerry told Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. and a skeptic of a Syria strike, during a hearing of the Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday.
At Wednesday’s House hearing, Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, expressed deep reservations and asked whether Obama would have “bothered to come to Congress” if the British Parliament had passed its own resolution supporting military force. Parliament rejected it instead. “I believe he absolutely would have,” Kerry said.
In a tense exchange,...