After meeting for over three hours behind closed doors, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is inching closer to approving a resolution which would authorize the use of force in Syria, according to Sen. Bob Corker, the ranking Republican on the committee.
“My sense is that we have a really good chance of consensus developing,” Corker, R-Tenn., said. “I think we may well complete our work today.”
Some senators, including Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., are still working on amendments to the resolution which currently sets a 60 day deadline for President Obama to act with limited strikes with a possibility of a 30 day extension. It would also bar the use of American ground troops.
McCain told reporters he is working on an amendment which would “reverse the battlefield momentum,” language that he thinks must be included in the resolution.
“It’s important that we have that provision in this legislation because without the provision for reversing the momentum on the battlefield then conditions are not created for the departure of Bashar Assad,” McCain told reporters today, referring to Syria’s president. “There is no policy without that. There is no strategy without that.”
Earlier in the day, McCain told the Associated Press he did not support the resolution released last night “in its current form.”
The Arizona Republican is specifically calling for language which would arm the opposition forces and degrade the ability of the Assad regime to deliver chemical weapons. McCain did not indicate if he would vote against the resolution if it did not include this language, saying only, “I feel in the strongest terms that we need to have that provision that calls for the reversal of momentum on the ground battling against Bashar Assad.”
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who remains firmly opposed to the resolution, predicted it will pass the committee and Senate and said, “The only chance of stopping what I consider to be bad policy will happen in the House.”
“I don’t see a clear cut or compelling American interest. I see a horrible tragedy, but I don’t see that our involvement will lessen the tragedy. I think it may well make the tragedy worse,” Paul said.
During its three hour meeting, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a closed hearing with Secretary of State John Kerry and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. As he left the meeting, Kerry told reporters the meeting was “good.”
The committee is now in a break and will meet privately before beginning an open meeting where it is expected to begin markup of the resolution at 2 p.m.