U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee
10:47 am
Thu September 5, 2013

Sen. Kaine Speaks Out on Syria

Chairman Menendez presides over a hearing with Secretary Kerry, Secretary Hagel and General Dempsey on the situation in Syria.
Credit U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Virginia Democratic Senator Tim Kaine has cast a vote supporting President Obama’s request to use military force in Syria.

Matt Laslo has the story from Washington.

Senators on the Foreign Relations Committee spent hours this week weighing classified intelligence about the Syrian regime while also discussing ways to tweak a new compromise authorization measure putting limits on the president’s initial request. Kaine says it’s in America’s interest to support the international ban on chemical weapons.

“This has protected American service men and women who have fought battles since the 1920s. They’ve been able to go into horrible battlefield situations and put their lives at risk, but knowing that chemical weapons would not be used against them. My fear is that if the United States does not stand up for the principle that chemical weapons cannot be used, especially against civilians, no one will stand up for that principle.”

Even though the measure passed a key Senate committee, its fate is far from certain. Over on the House side of the Capitol, lawmakers formally examined the president’s request for the first time. Virginia Democrat Gerry Connolly says the evidence against the Syrian regime is compelling, but he’s introduced new authorization language to limit the U-S mission while barring the president from sending in ground troops.

“To make sure that we stay focused on the issue and a response to that issue and possibly provide the White House with a path to authorization here in the Congress," said Connolly.

Both the House and Senate are gearing up for intense floor debates on Syria when Congress returns from its recess next week.