White House Prepared to Rework Proposal on Syria

U.S. administration open to changes in Obama's Syria proposal so long as they are "within the parameters" he previously explained.

Elad Benari ,

Obama in Rose Gardem with VP Biden
Obama in Rose Gardem with VP Biden

The White House said on Monday it is prepared to rework the language of a proposal to take military action in Syria to address concerns from lawmakers, an administration official said.

The official said the administration was open to changes "within the parameters that (the) president has previously explained," reported Reuters. The comments came as U.S. lawmakers expressed concern that President Barack Obama's draft could open the door to possible use of ground troops or eventual attacks on other countries.

Obama's first proposal, released on Saturday by the White House, authorizes the president to use the armed forces "as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in connection with the use of chemical weapons or other weapons of mass destruction in the conflict in Syria."

It also explicitly allows military action to deter or prevent the transfer of those weapons into or out of Syria.

Although the authorization's focus is on the use of chemical weapons against Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad's opponents on August 21, it did not set a time limit on any military action or confine it to Syria or spell out other limits clearly enough for many U.S. lawmakers.

Democratic Senator Robert Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Democrat Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, were conferring on Monday on the text of the Senate's version of a revised authorization, a Senate aide said, according to Reuters.

The committee could begin debate on a Senate version of the bill on Wednesday afternoon, with an eye toward bringing it to the full Senate for debate next week.

Obama seemed determined to attack in Syria last week, but took a step back on Saturday, announcing he would seek approval from Congress first.

Senator John McCain warned on Monday that a vote by Congress against Obama's proposal for using military force in Syria would be catastrophic.

"If the Congress were to reject a resolution like this after the president of the United States has already committed to action, the consequences would be catastrophic," McCain told reporters after meeting Obama at the White House.