US Senate measure has 90-day deadline on Syria action
WASHINGTON - Agence France-Presse
U.S. President Barack Obama waves as he walks to Marine One before departing for Sweden and the G20 Summit in Russia from the White House in Washington September 3, 2013. REUTERS photoLeaders of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said Tuesday they reached an agreement on a draft resolution to use military force in Syria, setting a 60-day deadline, with one 30-day extension possible for the intervention -- while also barring the involvement of ground forces in the conflict.
Congress this week is debating President Barack Obama's push for a military response to what he says was Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's use of chemical weapons against his own people last month on the outskirts of the capital Damascus.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee re-worded the resolution put forward by the White House to restrict it to "limited and tailored use of the United States Armed Forces against Syria, according to a copy of the draft obtained by AFP.
The authorization provided by the resolution "shall terminate 60 days after the date of the enactment of this joint resolution, except that the president may extend, for a single period of 30 days, such authorization" if he deems it necessary for the carrying out of such military operations, according to the measure.
"The authority granted in section 2 does not authorize the use of the United States Armed Forces on the ground in Syria for the purpose of combat operations," it added.
Committee chairman Senator Robert Menendez, a Democrat who said he backs Obama's plan for the use of force against Assad's regime, and whose office crafted the measure with staff from ranking committee Republican Senator Bob Corker, said he expected a vote on the measure Wednesday.
"Our negotiations have led to a much narrower authorization that provides for the appropriate use of force while limiting the scope and duration of military action, prohibiting boots on the ground, and requiring the Obama administration to submit their broader plan for Syria," Corker said in a statement.
"This is one of the most serious matters that comes before the Congress, so as we proceed to a potentially defining vote next week, the president and his administration must continue to vigorously make their case to the American people." House Democrats on Tuesday released their own joint resolution on military intervention in Syria, with a strict 60-day deadline for intervention with no apparent extension.
Congress returns from its summer recess on September 9. Senate leaders have said they intend to hold a vote on the resolution next week, while House leaders have said they aim to act quickly but have not provided a time frame.