Rand Paul Doubts Senate Will Ever Hold Syria Vote

Posted September 10, 2013 at 10:13am

Sen. Rand Paul says he thinks the news of a proposal by the Russian government to secure chemical weapons in Syria could mean the Senate never votes on authorizing military force.

“I think the Russian developments and the possibility of diplomacy makes a vote less likely to ever occur, which I think is a good thing,” the Kentucky Republican told reporters Tuesday morning. “If the international community were to take over the chemical weapons, it takes away one of my biggest fears about the whole thing, and I think it makes it less of a pressing issue.”

Paul made his comments following a bipartisan and bicameral meeting of mainly House members early Tuesday morning to discuss strategy in opposition to using military force against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“I think they won’t have a vote unless … in a week’s time nothing’s happened, you know, maybe there is a vote,” Paul said.

On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., did not take the procedural steps to get an initial procedural vote lined up for Wednesday. In addition, President Barack Obama said in an interview with ABC News that he didn’t foresee imminent votes.

“We had a bipartisan group here this morning. We talked about meeting again with hopefully a bigger bipartisan group in a week,” Paul said, calling the size of the meeting “pretty amazing” given the number of congressional leaders who have backed Obama on Syria. “The way things work around here is the caucuses are — they put pressure on you, so we wanted to have something that would invigorate those who may be opposed to go talk to their colleagues.”

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, was among the few Senate attendees. He said that he saw no way the resolution could be amended to get his support, as long as it ever authorized force against Syria. He added that the news out of Russia and Syria seemed positive, however.

“I know there are those who are skeptical about whether it would be possible to gather up that many chemical weapons and, you know, satisfy everyone that they were safe, but … that said, if there’s a plan out there that could do it, I’m sure it’s worth looking into,” Lee said.

Paul has drafted an amendment that would be a test vote on the Senate’s view on the underlying question of the president’s war powers. He said Tuesday that he thought most of the attendees of the meeting, a mix of conservatives and liberals, supported a more significant role for Congress in such decisions.