WASHINGTON – Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., on Wednesday voted against a Senate resolution to authorize U.S. military strikes in Syria, and an amendment he offered to prevent U.S. air and naval operations in Syrian water or airspace was shot down overwhelmingly in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The committee voted 10-7 to approve the overall resolution, which still must go before the full Senate and the U.S. House. 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.”
Udall also offered an amendment Wednesday that he said would have prevented giving President Barack Obama “a blank check” for the mission.
The Udall proposal 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.”
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said Udall’s amendment would amount to “micromanaging” the war. Udall was the only member of the committee to vote for his amendment.
With the exception of Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M., other members of the New Mexico congressional delegation have said they are still weighing options in Syria and undecided about any resolutions authorizing force.
“I will carefully examine the president’s plan in the face of the heinous acts by the Assad regime,” Rep. Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., said Tuesday. “The use of chemical weapons against innocent people is deeply disturbing, but we must have a serious discussion on how best to address the crisis in Syria.”
Pearce has said he opposes U.S. military intervention in Syria.