Congress Begins Hearings on Use of Force in Syria

Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey are scheduled to testify on Tuesday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on President Obama’s request for congressional authorization for the use of force in Syria. On Wednesday, Kerry and Hagel will appear before the House Foreign Relations Committee to discuss the issue. There will also be two classified Senate hearings on Wednesday including Kerry, Dempsey, and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Obama announced on Aug. 31 that he decided the United States “should take military action against Syrian regime targets” in response to the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons—a nerve agent—in a rocket attack on parts of Damascus on Aug. 21. Administration officials said the attack killed more than 1,400 people, including at least 426 children. Obama said he’d seek Congress’ authorization for the military action, which he said would be “limited in duration and scope.” On Aug. 30, Kerry went before the microphone to argue for use of force. The Administration also released an unclassified intelligence assessment of the incident on that day. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Monday said Congress voting against military action “would be catastrophic because it would undermine the credibility of the United States and of the President.”