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Kerry Seeks to Win Over Senators Skeptical of ISIS Strategy

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Secretary of State John Kerry was met with stiff Republican opposition on Wednesday when he visited Capitol Hill to sell President Barack Obama’s strategy to combat Islamic militants.

“You’re asking us to approve something that we know, the way you laid it out, makes no sense,” Sen. Bob Corker, R- Tenn., told Kerry.

Kerry’s testimony before the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee was meant to ease the minds of skeptical members of Congress concerned that approving the mission against ISIS could result in the deployment of American combat troops on the ground in the Middle East, or that the U.S. could end up being engaged in a long and expensive war.

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The former Massachusetts senator assured the committee he once chaired that no boots will be put on the ground and said other nations have committed to joining the U.S. in carrying out airstrikes.

“The United States will not go it alone. That has been a fundamental principle on which President Obama has sought to organize this effort,” Kerry said.

Members from both parties also expressed concern that the Obama administration is using the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force -- passed in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks -- as the legal foundation for the the mission.

“People don't want to have a vote before the election...People are petrified, not of the enemy, but petrified of the electorate. That’s why we’re not having a vote,” Republican Sen. Rand Paul said.

Kerry said he welcomes a new authorization “but we’re not going to get stuck in the situation...of not exercising our authority to do what we believe we need to do to protect the country.”

During Kerry’s testimony the House passed authorization to train moderate Syrian rebels. The Senate could vote on the measure on Thursday.

IN-DEPTH

— Andrew Rafferty

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