WASHINGTON (AP) — Senior congressional aides say a bipartisan group of senators is working on an alternative measure to a resolution authorizing U.S. military force against Syria.
The group met late Monday on a plan that would call on the U.N. Security Council stating that Syria has chemical weapons and requiring a U.N. team to remove the weapons within a specific time period, possibly 60 days. If this cannot be done, then President Barack Obama has the authority to launch military strikes.
The senators working on the proposal are Republicans John McCain, Kelly Ayotte, Lindsey Graham and Saxby Chambliss along with Democrats Chris Coons, Bob Casey, Chuck Schumer, Carl Levin and Bob Menendez.
The aides spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to publicly discuss the plan.
The administration pressed ahead in its efforts to persuade Congress to authorize a military strike, and Obama said the day’s developments were doubtless due in part to the “credible possibility” of that action. He stuck to his plan to address the nation tonight, while the Senate Democratic leader postponed a vote on authorization.
The sudden developments broke into the open when Russia’s foreign minister, seizing on what appeared at the time to be an off-the-cuff remark by Secretary of State John Kerry, appeared in Moscow alongside his Syrian counterpart and proposed the chemical weapons turnover and destruction. The Syrian foreign minister quickly embraced the idea, and before long U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon did, too.
Obama, who appeared Monday evening in interviews on six TV networks, said the idea actually had been broached in his 20-minute meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin last week on the sidelines of an economic summit in St. Petersburg, Russia. Obama said he directed Kerry to have more conversations with the Russians and “run this to ground.”
U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp and a colleague are proposing a diplomatic alternative to military action for the use of chemical weapons in Syria: giving the government of President Bashar Assad 45 days to sign the international ban on the weapons.
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