Amendment votes pave the way for Senate panel's action on Syria strikes

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted Wednesday afternoon to expand a use-of-force resolution by specifying the goal of U.S. military intervention in Syria should be to bolster the Free Syrian Army. 

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The successful amendment, sponsored by Sen. John McCainJohn McCainMcCain made secret trip to Syria A guide to the committees: Senate Webb: The future of conservatism MORE (R-Ariz.), a leading Senate voice on national security matters, and Sen. Chris CoonsChris CoonsSenate advances Trump's Commerce pick Senate Dems move to nix Trump's deportation order Senate Dem: Trump will hurt Gorsuch's confirmation by undermining judiciary MORE (D-Del.), also states the aim of U.S. strikes should be to reduce the ability of Syrian President Bashar Assad to use chemical weapons.

The committee adopted two McCain-Coons amendments by voice vote.

One states that the U.S. strategy toward Syria should aim “to degrade the capabilities of the Assad regime to use weapons of mass destruction while upgrading the lethal and non-lethal military capabilities of vetted elements of Syrian opposition forces.” 

The second reiterated that it is U.S. policy that Assad’s departure from power, an end to violence, and a negotiated political settlement are prerequisites for regional peace and security.

The votes pave the way for the committee to pass Wednesday afternoon a resolution authorizing military force against Assad’s government.

The panel earlier voted 14-4 to table an amendment sponsored by Sen. Rand PaulRand PaulGOP healthcare plans push health savings account expansion Congress must reform civil asset forfeiture laws ­ObamaCare fix hinges on Medicaid clash in Senate MORE (R-Ky.) expressing a sense of the Senate that the president does not have the power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not pose “an actual or imminent threat” to the nation.