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Pelosi: Senate's Syria resolution 'addresses concerns'

11:12 PM, Sep 5, 2013   |    comments
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaks at the Capitol on Tuesday.(Photo: Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images)
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WASHINGTON (USA TODAY) - House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told colleagues that a Senate committee's resolution on Syria "addresses some of the concerns expressed" about a U.S. military strike.

In her latest "Dear Colleague" letter on Syria, the California Democrat said Thursday the resolution adopted by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee "prevents boots on the ground, ties the authorization more closely to the use of chemical and other weapons of mass destruction and has a limited timetable."

Pelosi's letter comes as Congress prepares to act on President Obama's call to use military force as a response to Syrian President Bashar Assad's use of chemical weapons. Both the House and Senate will convene briefly Friday to set in motion action by Congress.

The full Senate is expected to take up the Syria resolution next week, but the House timetable is not clear.

Pelosi, who supports the use of force in Syria, said she's not sure whether a majority of the 200 members in Obama's own Democratic Party will back the president.

"I don't know," she told Time magazine. "I think it would be important to get a majority in the Congress. But I don't know if it's important how you would break it down. These issues are not really partisan."

Obama got a boost earlier in the week when Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, the top two Republicans in the House, endorsed strikes on Syria. But it's still not clear how many GOP lawmakers will follow suit.

In a sign of the challenge facing the House GOP majority, Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma said Thursday he will not vote for the resolution. Cole, a former chairman of the House GOP campaign arm and a Boehner ally, said military strikes on Syria are "not in America's best interest" and "ill-advised."

"The president's recent proposal is a gesture, not a clear policy or military strategy," Cole said.

The Senate resolution passed by the Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday limits military operations in Syria to a 60- to 90-day window and prohibits U.S. troops on Syrian soil.

In the full Senate, 60 votes will be needed to get past any attempt to filibuster the Syria resolution. There is a possibility that some senators would vote to move the debate forward, but still vote "no" on the military strikes.

Authorizing use of force could be a difficult decision for Democrats in conservative states where Obama is unpopular. For example, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia said Thursday he will vote "no" on the resolution and Sen. Mark Begich of Alaska said he's still undecided.

"I believe that a military strike against Syria at this time is the wrong course of action," Manchin said. "I believe that we must exhaust all diplomatic options and have a comprehensive plan for international involvement before we act."

Catalina Camia, USA TODAY

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