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Corker Wants Kerry to Testify About Putin, Syria

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee wants to hear directly from Secretary of State John Kerry about the situation in Syria, as Russia has begun to conduct airstrikes.  

Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker is inviting Kerry to testify next week, though the State Department has not confirmed he will appear before the committee he chaired as a senator from Massachusetts. "The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has requested Secretary of State John Kerry testify next week to explain the administration's Syria strategy to Congress and the American people," the Tennessee Republican said in a statement. "Until we are prepared to take steps to address the root cause of this crisis — the Assad regime — we will continue to see dangerous consequences in the region that will impact our allies and our security interests."  

Separately Wednesday, Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., called for a significant increase in the number of refugees from Syria allowed to resettle in the United States, even as others have expressed concern about the costs of vetting for potential terrorists.  

"I request that you set an immediate goal of resettling a total of at least 30,000 refugees from Syria and persecuted religious minorities from both Iraq and Syria, and account for this goal when issuing the Presidential Determination setting the refugee ceiling and regional allocations for Fiscal Year 2016," Peters wrote in a letter to President Barack Obama. "This will be an important first step, and in the coming years the United States should be prepared to accept at least 100,000 refugees from Syria and persecuted religious minorities. An undertaking at this level will demonstrate the United States’ continued commitment to our proud history of welcoming refugees of special humanitarian concern."  

In the statement saying he was inviting Kerry to testify before the committee, Corker also touched on the scale of the refugee crisis.  

"In the absence of leadership from the Obama administration, [Russian President Vladimir] Putin continues to do what he wishes fearing no pushback from the United States, and now Russia is conducting air strikes that are exacerbating the humanitarian crisis," said Corker. "The failure to respond effectively to the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II is a blight on us and other western nations."

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