CBO: We Can't Estimate Cost of Intervening in Syria

By Terence P. Jeffrey | September 11, 2013 | 11:02am EDT

(AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - The Congressional Budget Office has published its official statement on how much American taxpayers would need to cover if the full Congress were to approve the authorization for the use of military force in Syria (S.J. Res. 21) that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved last week.

The CBO’s bottom line: There is no bottom line to the U.S. military intervention in Syria that was approved by the Senate committee in its resolution.

“The Administration has not detailed how it would use the authority that would be provided by this resolution; thus, CBO has no basis for estimating the costs of implementing S. J. Res. 21,” said the CBO’s four-paragraph statement on the matter.

“S. J. Res. 21 would authorize the President to use military force against the government of Syria, for up to 90 days, in response to its use of chemical weapons,” said CBO. “Prior to the use of force, the President would be required to provide a determination to the Congress addressing several criteria to show that such action is necessary and in the national interest. In addition, it would require the President to submit to the Congress a strategy for negotiating a political settlement to the Syrian conflict, a comprehensive review of U.S. policy towards Syria, and periodic reports on the progress of military operations.”

Last night, in a nationally televised address, President Barack Obama said that he had asked congressional leaders to postpone any final vote on whether to authorize him to use force in Syria.

The members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee had returned to Washington, D.C., last week, before the end of the Senate’s August recess, in order to approve an authorization for the use of force in Syria in response to President Obama’s request that Congress do so.

“Now, after careful deliberation, I have decided that the United States should take military action against Syrian regime targets,” Obama said in a speech in the White House Rose Garden on Aug. 31.

“I will seek authorization for the use of force from the American people's representatives in Congress,” Obama said then.

Last night, Obama said he is now pursuing a diplomatic solution--as an alternative to a military strike—as his administration's response to the Syrian regime’s use chemical weapons. To that end he is sending Secretary of State John Kerry to talk with the Russians and is asking Congress not to vote at this time to authorize him to use force.

“I have, therefore, asked the leaders of Congress to postpone a vote to authorize the use of force while we pursue this diplomatic path,” Obama said.

“I’m sending Secretary of State John Kerry to meet his Russian counterpart on Thursday, and I will continue my own discussions with President Putin,” the president explained.

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