WASHINGTON/AMMAN (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama’s effort to win legislative backing for military strikes against Syria passed its first hurdle on Wednesday when a Senate committee voted in favor, but the narrow margin of victory showed the depth of U.S. caution.
In a possible sign of internal unrest in Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s ruling Alawite sect in the shadow of a likely U.S. intervention, Syrian opposition figures said General Ali Habib, a former defense minister, had defected. Syria denied the report.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee struggled on Wednesday to reach agreement on a resolution authorizing military strikes in Syria, but scheduled a vote for later in the day as Obama administration officials pressed for action in Congress.
Committee Chairman Robert Menendez convened the panel to consider a compromise resolution on military intervention that is more limited than President Barack Obama’s original proposal.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Leaders of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee said they reached an agreement on Tuesday on a draft authorization for the use of military force in Syria that was much narrower than the request made by President Barack Obama, paving the way for a vote by the committee on Wednesday.
Among other provisions, the draft, which was obtained by Reuters, sets a 60-day limit on U.S. military action in Syria, with a possibility of a single 30-day extension subject to conditions.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Three influential pro-Israel groups urged U.S. lawmakers on Tuesday to authorize President Barack Obama to launch an attack on Syria, signaling a stepped-up lobbying effort for American military action.
The statements by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) represented the groups’ most public show of support for U.S. military action since the August 21 attack near Damascus in which Syria’s government is accused of using chemical weapons to kill more than 1,400 people.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Secretary of State John Kerry briefly opened the door on Tuesday to authorizing U.S. ground troops in Syria, but quickly slammed it shut and told Congress that any resolution approving military force would prohibit “boots on the ground.”
The exchange during the first public hearing in Congress on possible military action in Syria highlighted the worries of many lawmakers about authorizing U.S. military strikes to punish the Syrian government for using chemical weapons on civilians.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The influential pro-Israel lobby group AIPAC urged U.S. lawmakers on Tuesday to approve a resolution allowing the Obama administration to retaliate for chemical weapons use in Syria.
“AIPAC urges Congress to grant the president the authority he has requested to protect America’s national security interests and dissuade the Syrian regime’s further use of unconventional weapons,” AIPAC said in a letter to members of Congress obtained by Reuters.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday that a resolution in Congress on the use of military force in Syria should not remove the option of using U.S. ground troops, although he stressed there was “no intention” of inserting American soldiers into Syria’s civil war.
At the first public hearing in Congress on potential military action in Syria, Kerry said “it would be preferable” not to preclude the use of ground troops to preserve President Barack Obama’s options if there was a potential threat of chemical weapons falling into the hands of extremists.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. lawmakers began work on Monday on their version of an authorization of the use of military force in Syria, worrying that President Barack Obama’s draft could open the door to possible use of ground troops or eventual attacks on other countries.
Obama’s proposal, released on Saturday by the White House, authorizes the president to use the armed forces “as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in connection with the use of chemical weapons or other weapons of mass destruction in the conflict in Syria.”
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama and his top aides launched a full-scale political offensive on Sunday to persuade a skeptical Congress to approve a military strike against Syria, but faced an uphill struggle to win over many lawmakers and a war-weary American public.
Obama made a series of calls to members of the House of Representatives and Senate, with more scheduled for Monday, underscoring the task confronting the administration before it can go ahead with using force in response to a deadly chemical attack blamed on the Syrian government.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Congress has resolved almost nothing of consequence since 2010, failing to complete what were once basic responsibilities for roads, schools, farms and the U.S. mail.
Asking the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and the Democratic-led Senate to agree on military action – already a controversial issue both within and between the parties – injects a new dose of uncertainty into Washington’s reaction to the Syria crisis.