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Bridget Johnson

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September 4, 2013 - 12:53 pm

After a lengthy debate about amendments to an agreement authorizing the use of force in Syria, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee sent President Obama’s permission to the Senate floor this afternoon.

The vote was 10-7, with Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) voting present.

Voting in favor of the agreement, tweaked by a pair of amendments after last night’s agreement between Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Ranking Member Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), were Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) by proxy, Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), as well as Corker and Menendez.

Voting against the authorization were Sens. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.).

McCain and Coons were behind two successful amendments, one stating that the U.S. goal should be “to degrade the capabilities of the Assad regime to use weapons of mass destruction while upgrading the lethal and non-lethal military capabilities of vetted elements of Syrian opposition forces,” and the other stressing that Assad’s fall and a negotiated settlement are vital to security in the region.

Tabled on a 14-4 vote was a Paul sense-of-the-Senate amendment that called it unconstitutional for the president to authorize strikes where there is no “actual or imminent threat” to America.

Paul said after the vote that he’ll bring up the amendment before the full Senate. “It should be made explicit that the Constitution invested the power to go to war in Congress. Since the Administration refuses to say it will abide by this vote, win or lose, Congress should send a clear message,” he said.

On his “no” vote, Paul said, “By pre-announcing a limited attack, we pre-announce limited effect.”

Rubio gave a lengthy statement after the vote stressing that his “no” vote wasn’t against helping Syria.

“Those who argue that what happens in Syria is none of our business are wrong. And that is why I have, for over two years, urged the President to pursue a more robust engagement in the hopes of helping the Syrian people replace Assad with a stable, secular and moderate government,” he said.

“However, while I have long argued forcefully for engagement in empowering the Syrian people, I have never supported the use of U.S. military force in the conflict. And I still don’t,” Rubio continued. “I remain unconvinced that the use of force proposed here will work. The only thing that will prevent Assad from using chemical weapons in the future is for the Syrian people to remove him from power. The strike the administration wants us to approve I do not believe furthers that goal. And in fact, I believe U.S. military action of the type contemplated here might prove to be counterproductive.”

Rubio pushed the Syrian Transition Support Act, which earlier passed the committee 15-3 yet has waited for action in the full Senate. That would openly provide lethal support and increase non-lethal support to carefully and properly vetted elements of the opposition.

“Second, we would pursue severe sanctions against individuals and financial institutions that have provided or facilitated the sale or transfer of weapons, petroleum and/or petroleum products to Assad,” the senator said. “Third, we should create a transition fund that will assist with a transition to a moderate transitional government in Syria in the aftermath of Assad’s fall. And fourth, we should increase humanitarian aid to the Syrian people and to the countries that are hosting Syrian refugees.”

Murphy sent a message to his email list yesterday saying he remains “extremely skeptical” about intervention in Syria.

“The question isn’t whether or not chemical weapons use is unacceptable – of course it is – it’s whether or not we can make the situation in Syria better. And that is going to be my guiding principle during this conversation,” the Connecticut Democrat said.

“We should start by improving conditions in refugee camps and help other nations bear the burden of displaced persons,” Murphy added. “But I’ll allow the administration to present its evidence and make its case.”

Flake said he voted for the authorization because “as commander in chief, President Obama already has the authority to conduct a limited strike such as the one he has asked Congress to authorize.”

“I believe in a strong commander in chief who takes actions as warranted and stands by them, which is why I voted in favor of the resolution in committee,” the Arizona Republican added. “After reviewing both the classified and unclassified evidence, I am convinced that the Syrian regime did launch a chemical-weapons attack, and it is in our national interest that it faces the consequences.”

Bridget Johnson is a career journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

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Top Rated Comments   
McCain and Rubio, who helped bring about Benghazi 9/11 with their love for the "rebels" there, shouldn't be allowed anywhere near any foreign policy decisions.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
"helping the Syrian people replace Assad with a stable, secular and moderate government,” he said."

And those people would be, who exactly? Stable, secular and moderate governments are not for sale at the neighborhood Wal-mart. We've spend a decade trying that in Iraq and the outcome is still in doubt.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Tabled was a Paul sense-of-the-Senate amendment that called it unconstitutional for the president to authorize strikes where there is no “actual or imminent threat” to America."

Yes, Senator Paul, there are "actual or imminent threat[s]" to America. They are the Obama presidency with the willful contrivance of the Congress of the United States. These people are hell-bent on weakening the country at home and abroad - and obviously We the People can do little to stop the madness.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
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46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Pure Kabuki theatre 101. Watch the "right hand!" Forget the "waving Left Hand!"
Why is Dilma Rouseff (Brazil's President) seated at Obama's right-hand side at G-20's round table? Because she is in the final stages of implementing total communism in all Brazil. Is there proof of this? YES! In Late July 2013, Dilma Rouseff and Fidel Castro made a tacit agreement to fully implement Cuban style communism in Brazil. See, Far-Leftist Brazilian "operatives" in and out of Brasilia were already slowly implementing Cuban style Marxist/Leninist economic/socialist policies and procedures throughout all Brazilian society...just not fast enough. Enter her Fidel/Cuban/Brazilian solution import from Cuba's homegrown elite training centers, Cuba's best and brightest Marxist/Leninist operatives to Brazil.
Humm? One problem Dilma had to solve! How in the world could a large number of these "specialists" be immigrated legally from Cuba to Brazil under existing treaties? Why, call them all DOCTORS OF MEDICINE. Problem solved! The WHO (World Health org)wouldn't oppose this. World community wouldn't be any the wiser and Dilma reaches her objectives of finalizing Brazils march towards FULL blown Marxism/Leninism a la Cuban style by March 2014...just in time for the world cup. See, all Brazilians will be wrapped up in FIFA.
Now, why is Obama interested in Brazil? because of THE SAO PAULO FORUM! a Modern Day Communist Manifesto for all Western Hemisphere nations...including the USA. Sad, America's sheeple are sound asleep and oblivious as to what is happening to their USA. When they wake from their slumber, "The public is not to be informed but indoctrinated, manipulated, and misled" (Mark Levin's Liberty amendment p.3) Pray. Amen. God Bless the America that was.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
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47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Congress has to power to direct the acts of war once they make a declaration. That power belongs to the Commander in Chief who will do as he sees fit. This resolution is a dead letter. Obama would be within his grant of power to ignore it completely. Therefore, I see it as a ruse to dupe the people.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
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47 weeks ago
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47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
You know, a rather odd thought occurs to me. Mr. Obama is about to attend a G-20 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia. Would anyone put it past Vladimir Putin to invite Bashar Assad to one of the social events in the city at the time? It would put Barack Obama in a wildly inconvenient spot. Either act like a horse's ass in a diplomatic setting or be seen buddying around with the guy in charge of the country he wants to bomb.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
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47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yes, I hate the fact that this passed. I am annoyed that people voted yes, but at least they had the fortitude to take a stand.

Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), you are a coward. Take a stand, or retire.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Is he a coward? Or did he just thumb his nose at a certain former Senator?
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'll stick with coward, even if you are refering to Obama's history of voting. A vote opposing the motion would have been more of an affront in any case, but this coward just side stepped the issue.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
I thought this was an article about Syria. Why is there a picture of a pedophile on the front page?
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
On a matter this momentous, there's no way this thing does not go to the full body.

47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
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