Senators on Wednesday tried to write a tight resolution authorizing President Obama to strike Syria
under very specific circumstances, but analysts and lawmakers said the language still has plenty of holes the White House could use to expand military action well beyond what Congress appears to intend.
"Wiggle room? Plenty of that," said Louis Fisher
, scholar in residence at the Constitution Project and former long-time expert for the Congressional Research Service
on separation of powers issues.
Writing the actual language to empower and constrain Mr. Obama is proving to be a difficult task, with the key authors being pulled in various directions.
Some of the drafters' colleagues want to give the president broad latitude for ongoing strikes that not only target Syrian President Bashar Assad
's chemical weapons, but also aids the rebels seeking to overthrow him. Other lawmakers, though, want the most limited of action - a strike designed only to make sure the Assad regime can't deploy its chemical weapons again.
The resolution drafted by Sens. Robert Menendez
and Bob Corker
, the top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
, grants Mr. Obama power "to use the armed forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in a limited and tailored manner against legitimate military targets in Syria
" - but only in relation to that nation's weapons of mass destruction.