The Foreign Relations Committee voted 10-7 in favor of a resolution that endorses a two-months’ limit on any intervention in Syria, with a possible 30-day extension, and bars the use of U.S. troops on the ground for combat operations.
The compromise appeared to have much more limits than President Barack Obama expected but would meet his administration’s goal of punishing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government for the attack on Syrian civilians, whih took lies of more than 1,400 people including children.
The Senate committee vote demonstrated the broad divisions on the authorization in Congress, where many U.S. lawmakers express doubts that the intervention would lead to a prolonged U.S. military involvement in Syria’s civil war and spark an escalation of regional violence.
Five Republicans and two Democrats – Chris Murphy and Tom Udall – couldn’t agree with the resolution on Wednesday. Democrat Ed Markey voted “present,” explaining in a statement that he is still undecided.
Obama and his fellows have preiously insisted that Congress should act quickly, saying the national security and international credibility is at stake in the decision whether to use force in the region in response to the use of weapons.
“If we don’t take a stand here today, I guarantee you, we are more likely to face far greater risks to our security and a far greater likelihood of conflict that demands our action in the future,” Secretary of State John Kerry told the House Foreign Affairs Committee at a separate meeting on Wednesday.
“Assad will read our silence, our unwillingness to act, as a signal that he can use his weapons with impunity,” Kerry said.
Those who protest a military intervention in Syria, greeted Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, during their House committee appearance.
Anti-war protesters held hands splattered with blood-red paint in the air behind Kerry as he spoke, Reuters reports.
Murphy revealed to reporters that he opposed the passed resolution due to his concerns that a strike could worsen the situation in Syria and he feared the possibility of a prolonged U.S. commitment.
“I oppose it not because I don’t gag every time that I look at those photos of young children who have been killed by Assad in his lethal attacks. It’s simply because I have deep concerns about the limits of American power,” Murphy said.
Recently conducted polls demonstrated that Americans oppose to U.S. military involvement in Syria, and the debate in the Congress is unfolding one week after Britain’s Parliament rejected British involvement in any military operation.
Meanwhile, Obama issued a blunt challenge to the Congress to get approval for a military strike on the Assad government.
“My credibility is not on the line. The international community’s credibility is on the line,” Obama told a news conference in Stockholm.
“And America and Congress’s credibility is on the line, because (otherwise) we give lip service to the notion that these international norms are important.”