• Bloomberg


A Senate panel voted to give President Barack Obama a three-year authorization for the use of military force against Islamic State and affiliates, opening a debate that’s unlikely to be settled until the new Congress convenes next month.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee acted along party lines, with 10 Democrats voting yes and eight Republicans voting no.

The authorization for use of military force, or AUMF, was offered by Chairman Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, at the panel’s final meeting before Republicans take control of the Senate in January.

Sen. Bob Corker, the Tennessee Republican in line to become chairman, said the committee will revisit the issue early in the new year. He said he wants to hear more from the Obama administration about its anti-Islamic State strategy before moving ahead with a new version of the measure.

The debate Thursday largely reflected a partisan split over the extent to which the measure should impose restrictions on the president.

The measure would impose a three-year limit on authorization and bar the use of U.S. ground combat forces in most cases. Most of the panel’s Republicans, while critical of Obama’s policy, expressed concern about language that would tie his hands.

Secretary of State John Kerry told the committee this week that the measure should give the president the option of extending the authorization beyond three years and shouldn’t specify limits on U.S. forces even though Obama has vowed not to let them become drawn into a ground war.

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky broke with his Republican colleagues with an amendment seeking to limit the authorization to Iraq and Syria. He said the language in the measure could give Obama authority to act in as many as 30 countries where groups have expressed solidarity with Islamic State.

That amendment was defeated on a bipartisan 13-5 vote, and Paul then joined the panel’s other Republicans in voting against the final measure.

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