A few hours after announcing that the Senate would take a procedural vote Wednesday to approve a U.S. military strike on Syria, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid changed course and chose not to file for cloture on the resolution, a move that could delay the vote.
Speaking on the Senate floor Monday night, Reid cited the ongoing diplomatic talks with Russia regarding the civil war in Syria and said he wanted to give President Barack Obama more time to make his case for the military strike before moving to a test vote on the resolution.
"Tomorrow the president is going to brief the Democratic caucus and the Republican caucus separately. He's going to address the nation tomorrow night. As we all know, the international discussions continue relative to the matter in Syria. Normally, what I would do in a situation like this is file cloture today. But I don't think that's to our benefit,” Reid said. “I don't think we need to see how fast we can do this. We have to see how well we can do this matter."
Reid said he was working with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on the possibility of moving forward on the bill without requiring a cloture vote, which would require agreement from 60 senators to pass, but would file cloture “when appropriate” if needed.
Had Reid filed for cloture Monday, the vote on a motion to proceed on the Syria bill would have been held Wednesday, which is the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, although he did not mention that during his remarks.
Obama is scheduled to meet with members of both parties in the Senate on Tuesday and plans to deliver an address to the nation later that night about his proposal to use military force against the Syrian government, which the U.S. has accused of using chemical warfare to kill more than 1,000 people in the country.