So after a morning of utter confusion, a use-of-force resolution was reported positively from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on a 10-7 vote with one “present” (Ed Markey). Three Republicans—ranking minority member Corker, plus Flake and—yes—McCain joined seven Democrats in supporting the resolution, while two Democrats—Udall and Murphy—joined five Republicans (including Rubio and Paul) in voting “no.”
The key moment prior to the final vote was a voice vote passing an amendment by McCain and Chris Coons making a goal of the resolution “changing the moment on the battlefield,” which is intended to signal U.S. support for regime change without spelling it out or making it an ironclad commitment. This was presumably McCain’s price for supporting the resolution after noisily opposing it as recently as this morning. Now both neocons and opponents of intervention will tout this amendment as greatly expanding the U.S. commitment in Syria, with unpredictable consequences in both Houses of Congress. Accepting McCain’s amendment will definitely make it harder for the White House to win over House liberals who think the original use-of-force resolution might have gone too far.
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