Senate panel authorizes limited military strike in Syria

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted to authorize President Barack Obama to conduct a limited U.S. military operation in Syria, the first step toward congressional endorsement of the effort.

The resolution, approved 10-7, supports use of force in a “limited and specified manner against legitimate military targets” during a 60-day period following enactment, with a possible 30-day extension at Obama’s request. The resolution doesn’t authorize use of U.S. ground troops in combat.

Senators voting against the measure were Democrats Tom Udall of New Mexico and Chris Murphy of Connecticut, and Republicans James Risch of Idaho, Marco Rubio of Florida, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and John Barrasso of Wyoming. Senator Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, voted “present.”

The committee vote clears the way for consideration by the full Senate. Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said that will begin Sept. 9 when Congress officially reconvenes after a five-week break.

House and Senate committees quickly scheduled hearings this week after Obama announced Aug. 31 that he would seek congressional approval to use military force against Syria in response to what the U.S. says was the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons against civilians.

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