September 4, 2013
Today, President Barack Obama's request for authorization of a possible military strike in Syria has won the favor of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The Committee voted 10-7 to approve the use of military force against the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad, after forces in Syria loyal to al-Assad used chemical weapons against rebel forces seeking to topple his regime. The chemical weapons attack left more than 1400 civilians dead. At least 400 children were among the civilians killed by the chemical attack.
In spite of this victory in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for authorization of the use of military force in Syria, the request still has to go through the Senate floor for a vote. The timing for such a vote remains uncertain. Senator Rand Paul, a conservative from Kentucky with strong ties to the Tea Party, has threatened a filibuster. Additionally, the request also has to go through the House of Representatives, which may be even more of an uphill battle for the President, considering that the House is dominated by Republicans.
The request from the President also had its first hearing by the House today. When Representative Jeff Duncan, a Republican from South Carolina, essentially mocked the Obama Administration's stance on intervention in Syria, Secretary of State John Kerry responded heatedly to Duncan’s comments, saying, "I volunteered to fight for my country, and that wasn't a cautious thing to do when I did it." This was a reference to Kerry's service in Vietnam in the 1960s.
In spite of the uncertainty in Congress passing a resolution for military action in Syria, the President has still left open the possibility of ordering a retaliation against the Syrian government's chemical weapons attack, even if Congress refuses to pass a resolution allowing a strike.