The resolution passed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Wednesday afternoon that gives President Barack Obama the authority to use military force against Syria appears to include a loophole that may leave room for placing troops on the ground.
The final resolution, obtained by TheBlaze shortly after the vote, only prohibits “the use of United States Armed Forces on the ground in Syria for the purpose of combat operations.”
Such language appears to leave open the possibility for Obama to deploy troops for non-combat operations, such as securing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons.
On Tuesday, Secretary of State John Kerry suggested during a Senate hearing that it may be necessary to put troops on the ground if the situation in Syria deteriorates following a U.S. strike.
“Mr. Chairman, it would be preferable not to, not because there is any intention or any plan or any desire whatsoever to have boots on the ground,” said Kerry.
“But in the event Syria imploded, for instance, or in the event there was a threat of a chemical weapons cache falling into the hands of al-Nusra or someone else and it was clearly in the interest of our allies and all of us, the British, the French and others, to prevent those weapons of mass destruction falling into the hands of the worst elements, I don’t want to take off the table an option that might or might not be available to a president of the United States to secure our country.”
Repulbican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, former chairman of the House Foreign Affairs committee, also questioned Kerry why the word “combat” was used.
“Is this intentional? Will you confirm that under no circumcustances we will place boots on the ground in Syria?” she asked at a Wednesday hearing, according to the Washington Times.
“Profoundly, no,” Kerry replied. “There will be no boots on the ground. The president has said that again and again. And there is nothing in this resolution that should contemplate it.”
Nonetheless, experts told The Washington Times the resolution is riddled with loopholes.
“Wiggle room? Plenty of that,” Louis Fisher, scholar in residence at the Constitution Project and a former expert for the Congressional Research Service, told The Washington Times.
Neither Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Sen Bob Corker (R-Tenn), Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif), Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Sen. Christopher Coons (D-DE), Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill), Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM), Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Sen. James Risch (R-ID), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), or Sen. Rand Paul (KY), all members of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, responded to requests for comment from TheBlaze Wednesday asking for clarification on whether or not the passed resolution authorizes boots on the ground for purposes outside “combat operations.”
The resolution that passed the Senate Foreign Relations committee 10-7 authorizes the president to “use the Armed Forces of the United States” in a “limited and specified manner against legitimate military targets in Syria.”
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