UPDATE: Senate Panel Votes to Authorize Force in Syria

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A Senate panel has voted to give President Barack Obama the authority to use military force against Syria in response to a deadly chemical weapons attack.

The vote Wednesday was 10-7, with one senator voting present. The full Senate is expected to vote on the measure next week.

The resolution would permit Obama to order a limited military mission against Syria, as long as it doesn't exceed 90 days and involves no American troops on the ground for combat operations.

The Democratic chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Bob Menendez, and the panel's top Republican, Sen. Bob Corker, crafted the resolution.

The vote marked the first time lawmakers have voted to authorize military action since the October 2002 votes giving President George W. Bush the authority to invade Iraq.



WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Senate resolution authorizing President Barack Obama to use military force against Syria would bar American ground troops for combat operations and set a deadline for any action.

The Associated Press obtained a copy of the draft resolution that the Foreign Relations Committee will vote on Wednesday.

The measure would set a time limit of 60 days and says the president could extend that for 30 days more unless Congress has a vote of disapproval.

Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, chairman of the committee, and Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, the top Republican, agreed on the measure late Tuesday.


Kerry says chemical weapons attacks number in `teens'

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Obama administration is now saying that the number of chemical weapons attacks by Syrian government forces is in the "teens" and that rebels put the number even higher.

The figure cited by Secretary of State John Kerry is significantly higher than any previous public estimate from the United States. Before last month's suspected chemical attack in the Damascus suburbs, U.S. officials had spoken of several earlier incidents. But no one had put the total in double figures.

Kerry told members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime would definitely use chemical weapons again unless the U.S. takes military action.

President Barack Obama is seeking Congress' authorization to retaliate against Assad by using force.



WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama says he's confident he'll be able to work with Congress to pass a resolution authorizing military intervention in Syria.

The president indicated to reporters during a meeting with lawmakers at the White House Tuesday that he's open to changes to his request for congressional authorization for strikes. He said he's serious about consulting with Congress, as long as the resolution sends a clear message to Syrian President Bashar Assad and hampers his ability to use chemical weapons.

Obama said he wants the American people to know, quote, "This is not Iraq, and this is not Afghanistan." He said action in Syria will be limited and proportional.

The meeting in the White House Cabinet room was attended by congressional leaders from both parties in the House and Senate.


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