A key Senate panel signed off on a resolution authorizing the president to use force against Syria, a vote that came as Secretary of State John Kerry met a skeptical audience in the House. Washington bureau reporter Michael Scotto filed the following report for NY1.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A divided Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved a measure that would allow the President to use force against Syria.
The resolution now heads to the Senate for a full vote next week. It would limit strikes to 60 days, with the possibility of a 30-day extension and prohibit the use of ground troops.
The vote came as top Obama administration officials were grilled by lawmakers at a House Foreign Affairs hearing.
"We're talking about people being killed by gas and you want to go talk about Benghazi and Fast and Furious," said Secretary of State John Kerry.
"Absolutely want to talk about Benghazi. Four Americans lost their lives. I have sympathy for the people in Syria, and I do think there should be a worldwide response, but we should act cautiously," said North Carolina Rep. Jeff Duncan.
The tense exchange highlights the uphill battle the administration faces in the lower chamber from both Republicans and Democrats. Some members question whether the opposition forces are worth supporting.
"The majority now of these rebel forces, and I say majority now, are radical Islamists pouring in from all over the world," said Texas Rep. Michael McCaul.
"I just don't agree that a majority are al-Qaida and the bad guys," Kerry said. "That's not true."
Others worry the U.S. doesn't have enough allies willing to pitch in.
"If we act in a unilateral way, I have huge concerns," said Rep. Gregory Meeks of Queens.
Kerry insists the support is there.
"We have more volunteers than we can use for this kind of an operation," Kerry said.
The operation, supporters say, is critical to the country's long-term security interests.
"If we do not pass the authorization measure, what message will Assad get? What message will Iran receive?" said Rep. Eliot Engel of the Bronx.
The administration will continue its effort to persuade lawmakers when it holds a closed-door meetings with members of the House and Senate on Thursday.