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 McCainSenate rivals gear up for debates McCain opponent releases new ad hitting his record Why is the election so close? Experts say it's all in your head MORE (R-Ariz.), a leading Senate voice on national security matters, and Sen. Chris CoonsChris CoonsOvernight Healthcare: McConnell unveils new Zika package | Manchin defends daughter on EpiPens | Bill includes M for opioid crisis Dems to GOP: Help us fix ObamaCare Cruz fights domain name handover in hearing 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 PaulSaudi skeptics gain strength in Congress Senators challenge status quo on Saudi arms sales Five tips from Trump's fallen rivals on how to debate him 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.