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Furthermore, he said, without “stepping up” to such a role, other nations in the region “would simply allow weapons to flow into Syria.”

While most on the committee agreed, some argued that the proposed legislation did not go far enough.

Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, was the most vocal in arguing that the U.S. would “have to do much more” than called for in the bill “if we are going to reverse the tide” of Syria’s war.

Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican, and others argued that the movement of American weapons to the rebels is a key step if Washington hopes to secure any kind of influence with forces destined to fill the vacuum of power in Syria should Mr. Assad finally be ousted.

His position was echoed Tuesday by Rep. Eliot L. Engel, New York Democrat and the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, who has for months been pushing a House resolution with similar wording to the Senate legislation.

Without more aggressively supporting the “moderate opposition” in Syria, “we leave the field to pro-Iran and pro-al Qaeda forces to determine Syria’s fate,” said Mr. Engel, who co-sponsored the House resolution on March 21 with Rep. Mike Rogers, Michigan Republican and the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.