President Obama cleared his first hurdle on Wednesday in his push for a military strike in Syria, as a key Senate panel voted to authorize the use of force.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 10-7, with one senator voting present, to approve a military strike in response to a deadly chemical weapons attack last month. The full Senate is expected to vote on the measure next week.

The vote came after Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., raised objections to an earlier draft. The objections forced lawmakers to renegotiate the measure; McCain ultimately won tougher language clarifying that U.S. action would be aimed in part at changing the momentum on the ground. He was among the 10 who voted for the final resolution, after getting two amendments added.

“These amendments are vital to ensuring that any U.S. military operations in Syria are part of a broader strategy to change the momentum on the battlefield in Syria,” McCain said in a statement afterward. “That strategy must degrade the military capabilities of the Assad regime while upgrading the military capabilities of moderate Syrian opposition forces. These amendments would put the Congress on the record that this is the policy of the United States, as President Obama has assured me it is.”

Continue reading →