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Senate committee OKs force against Islamic State

It’s unlikely the committee’s legislation will make it to a vote in the Senate with just days left in its session.

By Danielle Haynes
Secretary of State John Kerry talks to Committee Chairman Robert Menendez, D-N.J., (L) and ranking member Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn, before testifying during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the authorization for the use of military force against ISIL, on Capitol Hill on December 9, 2014 in Washington, D.C. UPI/Kevin Dietsch | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/832a20237ceb15ba448c780ee15cca17/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Secretary of State John Kerry talks to Committee Chairman Robert Menendez, D-N.J., (L) and ranking member Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn, before testifying during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the authorization for the use of military force against ISIL, on Capitol Hill on December 9, 2014 in Washington, D.C. UPI/Kevin Dietsch | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Dec. 11 (UPI) -- The Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday voted to move forward with legislation authorizing military force against the Islamic State, force that President Obama approved in September.

The committee voted 10 to eight to approve the war against the terror group -- also known by the acronyms ISIS and ISIL -- for three years, but without the use of ground troops. The vote was split along party lines, with Republicans voting against the measure.

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Committee Chairman Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., the principal sponsor of the legislation, said it creates "checks and balances on the commander in chief as is envisioned by the founders."

It's unlikely the committee's legislation will make it to a vote in the Senate with just days left in its session.

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"I think we ought to go ahead and vote, and move on, and know that this is something that will continue," Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said in reference to the time frame.

Obama authorized airstrikes against IS in September, citing presidential authority under the Authorization for Use of Military Force of 2001. Both Obama and former President George W. Bush have interpreted that legislation -- which was passed in reaction to the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks -- to include force against so-called "associated forces" of al-Qaida, like IS.

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Obama said he welcomed congressional backing of his airstrike authorization and had no intention of involving ground troops in the fight against IS.

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Secretary of State John Kerry, though, said he'd prefer if Congress didn't limit the use of ground troops.

"The president has been crystal clear that his policy is that U.S. military forces will not be deployed to conduct ground combat operations against ISIL," Kerry said during testimony Tuesday. "It doesn't mean that we should pre-emptively bind the hands of the commander in chief or our commanders in the field in responding to scenarios and contingencies that are impossible to foresee."

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