Senate vote sets up "Syria cliff"

Congressional leaders like the way the short-term legislation is structured: The House and Senate both approved the legislation by strong bipartisan margins this week and their vulnerable members get a pass on voting on an AUMF until after the election. The short timeline of the bill passed on Thursday gives Congress and the administration a chance to reassess both the political landscape and the battlefield in Syria and Iraq in less than three months.

“We’re in a good position now. I think it’s important that we have the ability to arm and train the rebels [as well as] the way we’re developing an international coalition. So I feel comfortable where we are,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

Republicans agree that a pause is prudent, albeit for different reasons. They say the president has no broader plan to take on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant for Congress to vote on, so it only makes sense to reconvene in November and attempt a fresh debate on America’s role in the world and what degree Congress is ready to formally give President Obama the power to launch a years-long war against the militant group.