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Senate panel says first vote on Syria resolution likely on Wednesday

Senators John McCain (R-AZ) (center), Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) (right) speak before Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Marti
Senators John McCain (R-AZ) (center), Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) (right) speak before Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Marti

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Senator Robert Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he hoped a Senate resolution on the use of U.S. military force in Syria would be written by the end of Tuesday, and it was likely the panel could vote on it on Wednesday.

Menendez said during a hearing that committee leaders and staff were working on a text that would let President Barack Obama's administration pursue military action in Syria, but ensure that it is not an open-ended engagement "and specifically not with boots on the ground, American troops on the ground."

Obama is asking Congress to back his call for limited U.S. strikes on Syria to punish President Bashar al-Assad for his suspected use of chemical weapons against civilians.

At the end of the 3-1/2 hour hearing on Syria, Menendez told the 18 committee members that a business meeting to vote on a text of the resolution was "likely" after a classified hearing with top administration officials on Wednesday morning.

"It is likely that we could very well be in a business meeting sometime after the classified hearing tomorrow morning," Menendez said.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Sandra Maler and Will Dunham)

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