Regardless of the strength of public opinion (polls show Americans are against an attack on Syria), Senator Paul may not get the chance to filibuster the vote to give President Obama the go-ahead he’s looking for. As Roll Call reported on Tuesday:
If Senate leaders take all the proper steps, the resolution to authorize the use of force against Syria might not only jump to the front of the schedule, but it could even short-circuit any filibuster attempts.
The War Powers Resolution of 1973 created a special privileged status for resolutions reported from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that are in compliance with other legal provisions. The reward for drafting a compliant resolution? The measure becomes the pending business on the Senate floor without debate or the risk of a long series of debate-limiting cloture votes.
And, on the heels of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s approval Wednesday of the resolution calling for the “limited” use of force, the Roll Call story cites information from the Congressional Research Service that could also prevent Paul from filibustering the Syria vote. The information from Congressional Research Service reads:
Under Section 6(b), the bill or joint resolution, once reported (or once the committee is discharged), “shall become the pending business” of the House or Senate, as the case may be. By making a covered measure the pending business on the House or Senate floor, the War Powers Resolution evidently makes the measure privileged for floor consideration in the House (without the need for the Rules Committee to report a special rule for that purpose), or obviates the need for a motion (that usually is debatable) to proceed to the measure’s consideration in the Senate. Because Section 6(b) contains no provisions to the contrary, the measure presumably would be amendable on the floor of either house to the same extent as any other bill or joint resolution that house considers, or could be tabled.
Basically, that means that should President Obama declare that “imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances,” applicable provisions in the War Powers Act would trigger a procedure bypassing floor consideration.
That isn’t to say that all is lost, however. The vote on the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) in Iraq was not expedited. A vote to vote on the measure was passed, though, by a vote of 95-1 and the AUMF was approved by both houses of Congress.
On Wednesday’s vote in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Paul voted against the resolution to authorize President Obama to order military strikes in Syria. The John McCain-authored measure was approved 10-7.
Senator Paul was joined in opposition by Republicans James Risch of Idaho, Marco Rubio of Florida, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, and John Barasso of Wyoming. Tom Udall of New Mexico and Chris Murphy of Connecticut were the two Democrats who voted against the measure.
Upon learning of the favorable vote, President Obama told reporters in Stockholm, “We will be stronger as a country in our response [to Syria] if the president and Congress does it together.”
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