The Senate voted Tuesday to order President Obama to study what military options the U.S. would have if it wanted to get more deeply involved in the revolt against Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.
Backers said it was meant to be a “reasonable assessment” of what U.S. forces can do to degrade Mr. Assad’s air power, but opponents said the study would mark a first step toward the kind of “no-fly zone” Mr. Obama imposed on Libya two years ago.
“This amendment is simply a way of saying we in the Senate are concerned, care about the slaughter going on in Syria and agitated [that] those in the rest of the world are not doing more,” said Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut independent.
The 92-6 vote came as part of the annual defense policy debate. Minutes after the amendment was approved, the Senate voted 98-0 to pass the broader bill, which lays out everything from troop levels to restrictions on how the military fights the war on terror.
With the U.S. involved in Afghanistan and with the Middle East still simmering in the wake of the Arab Spring, policymakers are grappling with what role America should play.
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