A key Senate panel authorized the use of force in Syria Wednesday, marking the first time lawmakers have voted to authorize military action since October 2002.
The Senate vote also marks the clearance of President Obama’s first major hurdle in his attempt to push military intervention in the civil war-torn Middle East country.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 10-7, with one “present” vote, approving of a military strike in Syria. The full Senate will vote on the measure next week.
“The president (Barack Obama) has said… this would not be a pin prick. Those were his words. This would be a significant strike that would in fact degrade his capability,” U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said at a House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee hearing.
U.S. military action is meant to be a response to the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons on Syrian civilians.
Hagel added that the “likelihood is very high” that Assad will use chemical weapons on Syrian civilians again. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry agreed, saying that it’s “100 percent” likely.
The next resolution will permit President Obama to order a limited military mission in Syria, which would not involve American troops being dispatched to the Middle East. The military mission also cannot exceed 90 days.
The Foreign Relations Committee’s top Republican, Sen. Bob Corker, crafted the resolution.