Rubio, Casey Effort to Stop Assad Advances Through Senate

A resolution by Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.) calling for democratic transition in Syria was passed through the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday on a 13-6 vote.

The resolution calls on Bashar al-Assad to step down from power so that the Syrian people can begin the transition to an inclusive democratic government. It also calls on the Obama administration to continue to provide support, including communications equipment, to the political opposition in Syria and robust humanitarian assistance to those affected by the ongoing violence. It also calls for the development of a plan to identify and secure the Assad regime’s stockpiles of conventional, biological, and chemical weapons.

“More than 10,000 people have now been killed in Syria,” said Casey. “Despite the presence of UN monitors, the violence has not stopped and Assad has not removed his forces from cities and towns across the country.  We must do more to provide humanitarian assistance to those suffering under the regime’s brutality, and to assist opposition organizations that seek a peaceful, democratic future for Syria.”

It comes the same week that Rubio gave a foreign-policy address at the Brookings Institution, where he was introduced by Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.).

"The goal of preventing a dominant Iran is so important that every regional policy we adopt should be crafted with that overriding goal in mind. The current situation in Syria is an example of such an approach. The fall of Assad would be a significant blow to Iran's ambitions. On those grounds alone, we should be seeking to help the people of Syria bring him down," Rubio said.

"But on the Foreign Relations committee, I have noticed that some members are so concerned about the challenges of a post-Assad Syria that they have lost sight of the advantages of it."

Legislation by Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) that would require the president to report to Congress on Syria issues also passed through the committee on a voice vote.

The Senate has left for a weeklong recess.