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Inside the Beltway

Washington politics and government with a New Mexico flavor

Udall votes no as Senate panel OKs use of force in Syria

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The Senate Foreign Relations Committee today voted 10-7 to approve limited use of U.S. military force in Syria, but Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., voted against the proposal.

The committee negotiated final wording of the resolution Wednesday, and in the end added a phrase specifying that the U.S. military strikes will aim to “change the momentum on the battlefield” to force President Bashar Assad  to agree to a negotiated settlement with rebels.

The full Senate and the U.S. House must still approve the resolution for it to be put into effect. Two Democrats — Udall and Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut — voted against the measure, along with five Republicans.

“I am voting no because this policy moves the United States at risk of progressing towards greater American conflict and increasing conflict in the region,” Udall said in a statement before the vote. “This is a very complicated sectarian civil war. Some of the rebels share our values and want an open society. Many others are allied with al-Qaida — and a greater threat to the United States than President Assad ever was. U.S. military involvement, no matter the limits at this point, will likely only pull us toward greater involvement. And with no clear end game.”

“I remain concerned that we have not sufficiently made our case internationally,” he added. “As I said yesterday, our attention should be on the source of Assad’s ability to continue to ruthlessly kill his own people — and that is support from nations including Russia and China, which are cynically trying to hold the moral high ground.”

Udall signaled his position yesterday. Read about that here.

Udall also offered an amendment Wednesday that he said would have prevented giving President Obama “a blank check” for the mission.

The Udall amendment would have struck wording in the resolution that said the mission would be conducted “as the president determines to be necessary and appropriate” and replaced that with language giving him specific permission only “to launch naval and air-based military strikes outside of Syrian territory or airspace as the president determines to be necessary and appropriate.”
Udall’s was the only vote in favor of his amendment.
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