Obama’s push to strike Syria clears first hurdle, but faces tougher ones ahead

Updated
Senate Foreign Relations Committee members, from left, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., Sen. Jeff Flake , R-Ariz., and Sen. Ron Johnson, R...
Senate Foreign Relations Committee members, from left, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., Sen. Jeff Flake , R-Ariz., and Sen. Ron Johnson, R...
AP Photo/Susan Walsh

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday approved a resolution authorizing the use of force against Syrian regime targets. But that’s just the first, and easiest, hurdle the Obama administration must clear before it can get the full backing from Congress to go ahead with a limited military strike.

“The big battlefield, of course, will end up being in the House of Representatives,” said NBC News senior political editor Mark Murray on NewsNation Wednesday.

The Senate resolution, which now heads to the full chamber for a vote, limits military action in Syria to 60 days, with the potential for a 30-day extension. It also prohibits American boots on the ground, and includes language requiring that the “military equation on the battlefield” be changed.

Although the White House has thrown its weight behind the idea of a military strike–both to maintain U.S. credibility, and to enforce what President Obama himself described as a worldwide “red line” against chemical weapons use–public opinion remains skeptical. A new ABC News/Washington Post poll found that six in ten Americans oppose unilateral U.S. missile strikes against Syria, and that 70% oppose supplying weapons to the Syrian rebels.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee held a tough round of questioning for members of Obama’s national security team on Wednesday. As Secretary of State John Kerry was leaving the hearing, which lasted over four hours, he told members of the press “it was a very good session.”

Obama's push to strike Syria clears first hurdle, but faces tougher ones ahead

Updated