new developments on Syriashould make Congress pass a resolution authorizing President Barack Obama to use military force in Syria, Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) said.
“Today’s development should make Members of Congress more willing to vote yes,” McCain and Graham, who have advocated military action in Syria for more than a year, said in a joint statement. “This will give the President additional leverage to press Russia and Syria to make good on their proposal to take the weapons of mass destruction out of Assad’s hands.”
Syria’s Foreign Minister said that it “welcomed” a Russian effort that would put its chemical weapons in international control and then destroyed, in response to what appeared to be an offhand remark in London from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry earlier Monday.
Obama said later Monday in a round of television interviews that he would “absolutely” put planned military strikes on hold if, and only if, the U.S. was able to “trust but verify” Russia and Syria’s offers. He called it a potential “breakthrough.”
McCain and Graham said that these developments should lead Congress to authorise Obama to use force, saying it would create additional leverage in his bid to get Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to give up chemical weapons.
There’s a huge caveat in this, obviously — increasingly dire whip counts in both chambers of Congress, especially the House of Representatives. As Obama’s interviews aired, Senate Majority Harry Reid canceled a critical test vote that was scheduled for Wednesday — perhaps realising that getting the required 60 votes for cloture was dicey.
McCain and Graham also said that the U.S. should immediately introduce a U.N. Security Council Resolution that spells out “what the international community should expect of the Assad regime if it is serious about abandoning its weapons of mass destruction.”
“This resolution must be presented as a take-it-or-leave-it offer and agreed to within a week at the Security Council, or else we run the risk that Russia and Syria will use this gambit as a way to play for time and continue the massacre of innocent men, women, and children in Syria,” they said in the statement.
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