Senate Committee Approves Loophole-Ridden Syria War Resolution

Close 10-7 Vote Sets Stage for Contentious Debate

In an extremely tight vote, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has approved the resolution authorizing a US attack on Syria. The 10-7 vote sets the stage for the resolution to be considered in the broader Senate as well as the House of Representatives next week, where it will face broad opposition.

As was previously reported, the resolution was modified to include a 90-day limit on hostilities, something that most analysts agree the administration would almost certainly ignore. The resolution also ended up with a series of loopholes making escalation of the war simpler.

In particular, the wording of the bill authorizes “limited and tailored” military attacks on Syria, with experts saying they’ve never seen the word “tailored” used in a bill that way, and totally unclear what, if anything, it might mean.

The “limited” part is not particularly specific either, as the resolution includes an array of putative “goals” that it says are to be accomplished, and the administration has already raised the prospect of using ground troops, even though it insists that’s not currently the plan. Though the resolution was supposed to bar ground troops, they instead called them “combat troops,” something the administration has shown a willingness to redefine however it sees fit.

Perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of the revised bill is how much longer it’s gotten, and how little specific content is in all of the new clauses, many of which just reiterate things President Obama has said in the past.

In the end, of course, the resolution’s text is only relevant to the extent that the president is willing to respect it, and with the administration reiterating its position that they can attack Syria whenever they want, with or without Congressional authorization, that likely doesn’t amount to much.

The Senate is still seen split more or less down the middle on the resolution, meaning the vote there will be extremely close. Though the House version hasn’t yet gone through committee, a large number of representatives have expressed opposition to the conflict.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.