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McCain’s Amendment to Corker’s Syria Authorization Approved

Arizona senator wants more ambitious mission than former Chattanooga mayor originally suggested

The proposed congressional authorization of U.S. military action against Syria passed out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee 10-7-1 Wednesday afternoon.

Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona successfully proposed language directing the Obama administration to attempt to “change the military equation on the battlefield” so as to help facilitate a negotiated end to the civil war and the departure of the country’s president, Bashar Assad.

The measure has to pass the full Senate and make its way through the U.S. House of Representatives before it carries official congressional weight. It is expected to be taken up next week on the U.S. Senate floor. The House version is currently in that chamber’s Foreign Affairs Committee.

McCain had earlier indicated that he opposed the force-authorization resolution initially proposed by Tennessee’s Bob Corker, a Chattanooga Republican. McCain said that in his view it was too narrow in scope and strategic ambition.

Following the committee’s vote, Corker sought to emphasize that the resolution language passed was crafted to avoid the potential for a drawn-out military engagement that might ultimately result in the introduction of American ground forces.

“None of us want the U.S. mired down in another conflict, so the committee has significantly limited the president’s original authorization, while still providing for an appropriate use of force in response to Assad’s use of chemical weapons. It prevents boots on the ground, limits the duration of any military action, and requires a progress report on the administration’s overall Syria policy,” Corker said in a statement. “As we now move to the full Senate, the American people deserve a full and open debate about U.S. interests in Syria.”

In contrast to Corker, most of Tennessee’s congressional delegation have indicated they do not support attacking Syria, or at least at this time remain undecided.

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