Senate waits on Syria as weapons proposal explored
The Senate will hold off on taking steps toward a first vote around the question of whether to authorize a military strike against Syria over alleged chemical weapons use, Majority Leader Harry Reid said on Monday.
The leadership decision follows Russia’s proposal earlier in the day that Syria relinquish its chemical weapons stockpiles to international control.
In an interview with CNN, President Barack Obama called the Russian idea a “potentially positive development” and would “run this to ground” to see if “we can arrive at something that is enforceable and serious.”
Obama is trying to win congressional authorization for a limited military strike against Bashar al-Assad’s regime, although he has met stiff resistance in both the House and Senate. Public sentiment also opposes military intervention.
An aide said the Russia proposal on chemical weapons is serious and fluid enough that senators do not want to lock themselves into a position on Syria just yet.
A procedural Senate vote had been expected on Wednesday, but Reid said he’d slow down the process aimed at setting that up.
“I don’t think we need to see how fast we can do this,” said Reid, who added that he believes there are enough votes to move toward consideration.
“I think what we need to do is make sure that the president has the opportunity to speak” to all senators and address the public first.
Reid said he would continue to discuss procedural matters on Syria with his Republican counterpart, Mitch McConnell.