WASHINGTON -- The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted Wednesday to authorize President Barack Obama to conduct a limited U.S. military operation against Syria for using chemical weapons.

The committee vote, 10-7, clears the way for consideration of the resolution by the full Senate. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said that will begin Monday, when Congress officially reconvenes after a five-week break.

The committee's action was Obama's first hurdle to clear in his bid for congressional support for strikes against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, who has threatened to retaliate. Two Democrats on the panel, Tom Udall (N.M.) and Chris Murphy (Conn.), voted no after voicing concerns that the United States risked being drawn into the Syrian civil war.

The resolution supports the use of force in a "limited and specified manner against legitimate military targets" during a 60-day period following enactment, with a possible 30-day extension at Obama's request. The resolution doesn't authorize the use of U.S. ground troops in combat roles.

The committee adopted the measure after approving by voice vote two amendments by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.).

The resolution calls for the United States to "create favorable conditions for a negotiated settlement" in Syria, which it says requires "decisive changes to the present military balance of power on the ground." That, McCain said, means moving to "upgrade lethal and nonlethal capabilities of vetted elements of Syrian opposition forces," a move some lawmakers in both parties oppose on the grounds it might lead to deeper U.S. involvement.

While the Senate moved toward approving the authorization, resistance continued in the House of Representatives.

The Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee criticized Obama's Syria policy yesterday as "adrift," without saying whether he would support a military strike.

"The administration's Syria policy doesn't build confidence," Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) said at a panel hearing on Obama's request. "For over two years, U.S. policy has been adrift."

"There are no easy answers," Royce said. "Syria and much of the Middle East are a mess."

Obama, visiting Sweden before attending the Group of 20 nations summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, said the confrontation with Syria is a test for the global community and the consensus against the use of chemical weapons.

"My credibility is not on the line," Obama said at a news conference in Stockholm. "The international community's credibility is on the line. And America and Congress's credibility is on the line because we give lip service to the notion that these international norms are important."

If the full Senate and the House of Representatives also approve it, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee resolution would give Obama a limited window to conduct a military operation in response to what the administration says was the Syrian government's use of chemical weapons against civilians outside Damascus last month.

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