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September 09, 2013

Senate delays Syria vote after Russia offer

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid Monday postponed a procedural vote on an Obama administration-sought resolution to authorize a military strike against Syria to give the White House and lawmakers time to weigh a diplomatic offer by Russia that would have Syria turn over its chemical weapons to international monitors.

Earlier in the day, Reid announced that the Senate would hold the procedural vote - known as cloture - on Wednesday. But as word of Russia's offer reached the Capitol, several senators and members of the House of Represenatives spoke of the offer as a potential option to air strikes against Syria.

By late afternoon, Reid backed off the scheduled vote.

"The international discussions continue relative to the matter in Syria," Reid said on the Senate floor. "Normally, what I would do in a situation like this is file cloture today. But I don't think that's to our benefit."

Lawmakers voiced optimism and skepticism about the Russian proposal. Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., called the proposal a potential "game-changer." Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Il., expressed concern about how  chemical weapons could be removed or relocated from civil war-ravaged Syria and how the international community could judge whether all or most of the weapons are removed.

Still, Durbin said the offer is worth examining. He credited Obama's effort to win strike authorization for prompting Russia to make its offer.

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., the  ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and co-  author of the Senate Syria authorization measure, also said he' has doubgts about Russia's proposal.

"While at this point I have healthy skepticism that this offer will change the situation and it will be several days before we can fully determine its credibility, I do know that it never would have been floated if the Senate Foreign Relations Committee had not approved the authorization for the use of force last week," Corker said.

 

 

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