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Politics

Senate panel OKs military force against Syria; Rubio votes no

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Published:   |   Updated: September 4, 2013 at 05:14 PM

WASHINGTON – The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 10-7 today to give President Barack Obama authority to use military force against Syria in response to a deadly chemical weapons attack. Marco Rubio of Florida voted no.

Rubio voted against the authorization, saying while the United States should not disengage from the world stage, military force won’t solve the problem.

The authorization, which now faces a vote by the full Senate, gives the White House 60 days to conduct military actions against Syria, after which it must come back before Congress to authorize another 30 days of military action.

The authorization calls for degrading the ability of the regime of Bashar al-Assad to use chemical weapons again, prohibits the use of U.S. forces to conduct combat operations on the ground and limits the area of operations to Syria.

Rubio, calling what happens in Syria “a vital national security concern for the United States,” said “a few days of limited missile strikes would allow (Assad) to claim “he took on the United States and survived and further destabilized the region.

“This idea, that a military response is the only way to respond to what is happening in Syria is not true,” said Rubio. “The response should have always been a multifaceted plan to have the Syrian people get rid of Assad.”

Rubio pointed to a plan passed by the committee in May, called the Syrian Transition Support Plan, as a guideline on how the U.S. should respond to Assad .

That plan, he said, provides lethal and nonlethal support to “carefully vetted elements of the opposition.”

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.

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