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President Obama wins Senate panel's backing on Syria strike

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama's request for speedy congressional backing of a military strike in Syria advanced in the Senate on Wednesday, hours after the commander in chief left open the possibility he would order retaliation for a deadly chemical weapons attack even if Congress withheld its approval.

The authorization measure, which cleared the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on a 10-7 vote, was altered at the last minute to support "decisive changes to the present military balance of power" in Syria's civil war. It would rule out U.S. combat operations on the ground.

The resolution is expected to reach the Senate floor next week, although the timetable for a vote is uncertain. Sen. Rand Paul, a Kentucky conservative with strong tea party ties, has threatened a filibuster.

The panel's vote marked the first formal response in Congress to the president's unexpected announcement last weekend that he was putting off an expected cruise missile strike against Syria and instead was first asking lawmakers to unite behind such a plan.

The president was in Sweden after a day of diplomacy when the vote occurred. At a news conference earlier, he said,


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