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Foreign Relations Committee Comes To Agreement On Syria

A few hours after finishing up a hearing on the Obama administration's proposed military intervention in Syria, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee came to a bipartisan agreement that would allow President Obama to use force against Syria, but would also give him a time limit.

"Sharing President Obama's view that our nation is best served when we come together as one, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has crafted a bipartisan Authorization for the Use of Military Force that we believe reflects the will and concerns of Democrats and Republicans alike," Sens. Robert Menendez, the Democratic chair of the committee said in a statement. "Together we have pursued a course of action that gives the President the authority he needs to deploy force in response to the Assad regime's criminal use of chemical weapons against the Syrian people, while assuring that the authorization is narrow and focused, limited in time, and assures that the Armed Forces of the United States will not be deployed for combat operations in Syria."

According to Politico, the resolution sets a 60-day deadline plus a 30-day extension. Reuters reports that the resolution "would ban any use of U.S. armed forces on the ground in Syria."

As we reported, the committee held a fairly cordial back-and-forth with administration officials Tuesday afternoon in which most senators appeared willing to back military action against Syria. If the resolution is approved by the committee, it moves before the full Senate.

Politico reports:

"It remains an open question whether the new resolution can get 60 votes to overcome an expected filibuster by opponents of U.S. intervention in Syria's two-year-old conflict. [Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid and other top Democrats believe they can get 45 to 50 Democrats to back the use-of-force resolution, but aren't sure there will be enough GOP support to get cloture. Neither [Senate Minority Leader Mitch] McConnell nor Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the minority whip, have said how they will vote, and there is strong opposition among rank-and-file Republicans to any U.S. involvement in Syria's war.

"Since Obama went to Congress with a resolution authorizing the use-of-force — rather than ordering military strikes first and then informing Congress, as required under the War Powers Act — the use-of-force proposal will be fully debatable and amendable. Under the War Powers Act, such a resolution would face only limited debate and require a simple majority vote."

President Obama did send Congress proposed language, but many lawmakers complained it gave him very broad powers.

Jack Goldsmith, a law professor at Harvard who, among other things, specializes in presidential powers, wrote a blog post that parses the short resolution proposed by Obama.

"The proposed AUMF focuses on Syrian WMD but is otherwise very broad," Goldsmith writes.