Transcript: Remarks by Sen. Bob Menendez on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s resolution to authorize military force against the Syrian government
Excerpts from remarks by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on the joint resolution to authorize military force against the Syrian government in response to the use of chemical weapons. The committee hearing was held on Sept. 4, 2013:
In the last few days, the committee has come together in the spirit of bipartisanship and drafted a resolution to authorize the use of limited military force in Syria that I believe can achieve a bipartisan support…It is my expectation that we will be able to achieve the goals largely set out by the resolution.
I appreciate the spirit in which all members have come to this issue. This is one of the most weightiest issues that any member will cast a vote on. And they’ve come to it seriously and committed to getting the facts and coming to their respective conclusions.
I want to thank Sen. [Bob] Corker for being a close partner in making the resolution tailored and focused so that it reflects the general sentiment and will of the majority of the committee, I believe the interests of the American people.
It gives the President the authority he has – that he needs to respond to Syria’s use of chemical weapons against its own people…This is an authority that we believe we have tailored in such a way that it meets that goal but also the concerns of the members of the committee and the American people.
We have developed language that we believe appropriately narrows the scope, duration, and breadth of the authority granted to meet congressional concerns and the concerns of the American people…
This is a tightly tailored or specified authorization to give the President necessary and appropriate authority to use military force to respond to the use of weapons of mass destruction by the Syrian government, to protect the national security interests of the United States and our allies and partners, to degrade Syria’s capacity to use such weapons in the future.
It has a requirement for a determination for the use of military force as necessary, that appropriate diplomatic and other peaceful means to prevent the deployment and use of chemical weapons by Syria have been used, and that the United States has both a specific military plan to achieve the goal of responding to the use of weapons of mass destruction by the Syrian government, and that the use of military force is consistent with the broader goals of U.S. strategy towards Syria, including achieving a negotiated settlement to the conflict.
It has a limitation that specifies that the resolution does not authorize the use of United States armed forces on the ground in Syria for the purpose of combat operations to ensure, in essence, that there be no boots on the ground.
The authorization will end after 60 days. The President having the ability to request and certify for another 30 days and with Congress having an opportunity to pass a resolution of disapproval.
It provides for an integrated United States government strategy for Syria, including a comprehensive review of current and planned U.S. diplomatic, political, economic, and military policy towards Syria. And it requires a report to Congress on the status of those military operations.
So let me again thank Sen. Corker and all the members of the committee for working together in the interest of the American people to respond to this challenge. I believe it is a declaration of our values. It sends a clear message that the world cannot and will not tolerate the use of chemical weapons anywhere.
“There is a reason that the United States is the one indispensable nation in the world. It is a heavy burden, but it is also an opportunity to lead the world to a safer, more secure world. So I believe we’ve met that burden today, and I believe that we will do so as we move to the Senate floor.”
- foreign.senate.gov: Video of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing and vote on the authorization of the use of military force in Syria on Sept. 4, 2013
- WhatTheFolly.com: Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s vote to approve the joint resolution to authorize military force against Syria on Sept. 4, 2013
- WhatTheFolly.com: Joint resolution to authorize the use of military force against the Syrian government in response to the use of chemical weapons – Sept. 4, 2013 (PDF)
- WhatTheFolly.com: Syria: Chemical Weapons
- WhatTheFolly.com: Kerry, Hagel & Dempsey urge Senators to authorize military force in response to Syria’s use of chemical weapons
- WhatTheFolly.com: Moon: U.N. inspectors working “around the clock” to complete preliminary investigation on use of chemical weapons in Syria
- WhatTheFolly.com: Obama seeks congressional authorization for military strike against Syria
- WhatTheFolly.com: U.S. intel report confirms use of chemical weapons in Syria