CRF Blog

The Senate and Syria

by Damon Huss

Yesterday, the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 10-7 to authorize President Obama to use military force against Syria. A majority of Republicans on that panel opposed it, and most Democrats supported it. As reported at Politico:

The vote in the committee was 10-7, with Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) voting present. The approval came after a three-hour briefing with top Obama administration officials, including Secretary of State John Kerry and James Clapper, the director of national intelligence — the latest in a string of classified discussions about the Assad regime’s alleged use of chemical weapons. [more]

The “present” vote by Democratic Sen. Ed Markey, who was sworn into office in July, has prompted strong reactions. A present vote means he would declare neither support nor opposition to the resolution to authorize military action. An article in Boston Magazine summed up the reaction to Markey’s vote with the title “Ed Markey Annoys Literally Everyone by Voting ‘Present’ on Syrian Resolution.” As the article states:

Markey told the Boston Globe he was worried about language that was added to the resolution that might make it too broad, but he didn’t have enough information for an outright “no.” Even so, it’s the kind of vote that annoys both sides in the debate….

Markey seems to have been in an awkward position. He sits in the seat held by now-Secretary of State John Kerry, who urged the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to give the resolution their approval. It would have made an outright “no” vote a bit awkward. [more]

As the debate goes to the House of Representatives, NPR’s It’s All Politics blog has provided “The Syria Vote: A Guide to the Congressional Factions.”