WASHINGTON — The Senate will delay its first procedural vote on American military intervention in Syria, Majority Leader Harry Reid said late Monday afternoon.
“As we all know, the international discussions continue relative to the matter in Syria. Normally, what I would do in a situation like this is file cloture today, but I don’t think that’s to our benefit. I don’t think we need to see how fast we can do this. We have to see how well we can do this matter,” Reid said on the floor Monday evening.
“I’m not going to file cloture this evening on the motion to proceed to the Syria resolution,” Reid said, adding that he had the votes to pass it.
“I think what we need to do is make sure that the president has the opportunity to speak to all 100 Senators and all 300 million American people before we do this,” he said.
Earlier Monday afternoon, Reid announced that the vote would be held on Wednesday, September 11.
Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said earlier Monday that Russia would support Syria handing over it’s chemical arsenal to international forces, who would ultimately destroy it. Appearing on CNN, President Barack Obama suggested he was open to the idea of such a plan. Reid did not specify which international discussions he was referring to.
That mode of action has its admirers in the House as well. Rep. Darrell Issa, emerging from a classified briefing Monday afternoon, told reporters that “there really is no reason to have a vote until after that’s fully explored, if the administration is in fact exploring it.”
There is skepticism, however, that the offer from Russia, an ally of Syria, is genuine.
“If Russia is serious, and not just helping Syria stall, it could make a difference. But we shouldn’t get our hopes up too high given Syria’s past behavior and Russia’s lockstep support for Syria with weapons and with its United Nations veto,” said Sen. Carl Levin, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee in a statement.
“[Putin] is still an evil man from an evil empire,” Issa said, saying that even so, if Russia could help get rid of Syria’s arsenal of chemical weapons, it would be worth pursuing.