Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., was among a minority of Senate Foreign Relations Committee members Wednesday who voted against authorizing the use of military force in Syria.
Murphy called U.S. reports the Syrian government used chemical weapons against opponents “a human rights atrocity and a blatant violation of international law.”
“It’s impossible to see the horrific images of death and suffering in Syria and not feel compelled to act in some way. But there is not always an American solution to every international crisis,” Murphy said in a statement. “For me, today’s vote was a close call, but in the end, I voted no because I believe that the downside risks of military action, both for U.S. interests and the Syrian people, outweigh the potential benefits.”
The resolution was approved on a 10-7 vote –- with Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., voting “present.” The measure will probably be considered by the full Senate next week.
On Saturday, President Obama had asked Congress to authorize use of force against Syria.
But Murphy said there is little chance that targeted air strikes will destroy Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles, and may simply prompt another deadly reaction. He said he also worried about “mission creep” and that U.S. involvement in the country’s civil war “has the potential to further destabilize the nation and propel its descent into chaos.”
Under the resolution, Obama could authorize air strikes against Syria for 60 days, with the possibility of an additional 30-day extension. The resolution prohibits the use of ground troops.
The resolution won the support of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz, who initially said it was too weak, by adding an amendment sponsored by McCain that called for the United States to “reverse” Syrian President Bashar Assad’s momentum on the battlefield.
There was only one other Democrat besides Murphy to vote “no” on the resolution, Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico.
Five GOP members on the panel, including potential 2016 contenders Rand Paul of Kentucky and Marco Rubio of Florida — voted against authorization.
Meanwhile Secretary of State John Kerry continued his full court press on Capitol Hill Wednesday, meeting with members of the Senate Foreign Relations and Intelligence committees behind closed doors.
Kerry was also a witness at a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing Wednesday.