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Senate Holds First Hearing On Syria Resolution

1:44 PM, Sep 3, 2013   |    comments
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WASHINGTON -- As key House Republican leaders lined up Tuesday behind President Obama's call for military action in Syria, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee prepared for the first of two hearings to learn more about the military and policy issues involved.

Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will testify in a public hearing to make the administration's case for action in the face of ongoing skepticism from a divided Congress.

"What we'll hear hopefully is No. 1, the full case for the use of force, and what that campaign will look like in broad terms, especially as it relates to the end result," Committee Chairman Bob Menendez, D-N.J., told CBS' This Morning.

On Wednesday, the committee will hold a second, closed hearing on classified information regarding the decision to engage in Syria because the Assad regime used chemical weapons in the nation's ongoing civil war. Hagel and Dempsey will hold another closed-door hearing for members of the Senate Armed Services Committee in the morning.

Tuesday's hearing is part of a sweeping effort by Obama to build congressional support for military strikes. Also Tuesday, Obama met privately at the White House with key congressional committee leaders as well as House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

Boehner emerged from that meeting saying he would vote in favor of using force in Syria, and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., issued a statement saying, "I intend to vote to provide the president of the United States the option to use military force in Syria."

Senators were also scheduled to received a classified briefing Tuesday morning at the U.S. Capitol.

Congress remains out of session until Sept. 9, but both the House and Senate are scheduled to vote next week on authorization resolutions, which are still being drafted.

In the Senate, Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said they are inclined to support the resolution following a private Monday meeting with Obama at the White House. Their support is widely viewed as critical for passage because it is an indicator that additional Republicans are likely to support it. GOP support will be necessary to make up for any Democratic defections in the 54-seat Democratic majority.

"The public doesn't understand our strategy. I'm trying, along with Sen. McCain, to make sure we get Syria as right as possible given the really bad options," Graham told CNN's New Day.

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