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September 3, 2013
A new use-of-force resolution for Syria sets a 60-day deadline, with one 30-day extension possible, for President Barack Obama to launch military strikes against the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad — and it will also bar the involvement of US ground forces in Syria.
The revised resolution was crafted by Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), the chairman and ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, following several days of negotiations. The panel could vote on the proposal by Wednesday.
Aides to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) were also involved in the discussions over the revised resolution.
Menendez and Corker both support Obama’s call for “limited, proportional” attacks on Syria over the alleged use of chemical weapons against Syrian civilians.
Over the last two days, Corker had been insisting on a 30-day deadline for Obama to order any military action against Syria, but Democrats objected to that requirement.
The Tennessee Republican had also sought a flat-out prohibition on the insertion of any American ground forces into Syria.
But Democrats insisted that Obama should be allowed to do so under limited circumstances, such as special forces operations or to secure stocks of chemical weapons.
It remains an open question whether the new resolution can get 60 votes to overcome an expected filibuster. Reid and other top Democrats believe they can get 45 to 50 Democrats to back the use-of-force resolution, but aren’t sure there will be enough GOP support to get cloture. Neither McConnell nor Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the minority whip, have said how they will vote, and there is strong opposition among rank-and-file Republicans to any US involvement in Syria’s war.