U.S. House overwhelmingly votes to condemn Trump’s Syrian troop withdrawal

By: - October 17, 2019 7:47 am
Pres. Trump from the back leaving UN press conference

Pres. Donald Trump exits a press conference on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House on Wednesday approved a resolution condemning President Donald Trump’s withdrawal of U.S. troops from northern Syria. 

The resolution passed the House with broad bipartisan support, delivering a stinging rebuke to the president. The final vote was 354-60. Every member of Wisconsin’s Congressional delegation voted for the resolution, including Republicans Mike Gallagher, Bryan Steil, James Sensenbrenner and Glenn Grothman and Democrats Ron Kind, Mark Pocan, and Gwen Moore.

“This is just a president who clearly is out of his league when he’s dealing with foreign affairs,” Pocan  told reporters on Monday, two days ahead of the vote, adding that he hoped Congress would send a strong message of disapproval of the Trump administration’s actions in Syria “because it’s something we need to do.”

Democratic and Republican lawmakers in both chambers have slammed the president after he ordered the withdrawal of U.S. forces from the region. Critics blame the decision for allowing a Turkish incursion into the region that targeted U.S. Kurdish allies. 

“You just have a giant pot of chaos caused by the president not understanding foreign policy and not reading foreign policy memos,” Pocan said. “And this is one thing where you have seen nothing but a common voice in Congress by almost everybody, saying that was a bad decision by the president.”

“Since President Trump gave Turkey the green light to attack our Kurdish partners, Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate have been united in our swift and serious condemnation of this reckless action, which threatens countless lives, endangers our Kurdish partners and undermines our credibility in the world,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said this week in a joint statement. 

“There’s no honor in abandoning our Kurdish allies on the frontlines fighting ISIS,” said Rep. Ron Kind (D-La Crosse). “There’s no honor in having our military retreat in disgrace. There’s no honor in going back on our word. The president has turned his back on longtime allies and opened the window for a resurgence of ISIS, which is why today my colleagues and I on both sides of the aisle overwhelmingly voted to condemn his actions. He’s put our national security at risk and emboldened the destructive and destabilizing actions of Russia, Iran, and the Assad regime.”

The resolution states that “an abrupt withdrawal of United States military personnel from certain parts of Northeast Syria is beneficial to adversaries of the United States government, including Syria, Iran, and Russia.” It says that lawmakers oppose the troop withdrawal and it calls on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to immediately cease unilateral military action in northeast Syria. 

Trump dismissed criticisms of his policy on Wednesday, saying the area is “not our border,” and calling Kurdish forces “no angels,” according to NBC. 

A Senate version of the resolution has also been introduced by Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.). 

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, slammed the president’s move in an interview with reporters in the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. 

“I hope he will reconsider, stop the bloodshed and reset the table before it’s too late,” Graham said. “His decision and line of thinking was against all sound military advice.”

Maine Democratic Rep. Jaren Golden voted for the resolution. “I think as a member of the Armed Services Committee, as someone that served in the infantry, fought over in Iraq, I know this area very well. The biggest concerns are the way in which the president did this — very abruptly, he did it without I think communicating and working with his advisers at the Pentagon and has really I think put American soldiers’ lives at risk.” 

Golden added, “you can’t just withdraw overnight.” 

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) was among the Republicans who voted to rebuke Trump. 

“I think that most people are upset that Turkey would attack the Kurds in the way that they are, and I think that the United States could have done more to try to prevent the kind of terrorist attacks that Turkey is reacting to, and at the same time prevent the kind of bloodshed that’s going on there,” Buck said in an interview Wednesday. 

Virginia Rep. Denver Riggleman, a freshman House Republican and a U.S. Air Force veteran, also supported the resolution. 

“I know there’s a destabilization factor that could happen there. We need to make sure we protect those who helped us, especially against ISIS,” he said. He added he’s worried about the “total destabilization affecting the Middle East,” and the possibility that removing troops now could mean being forced to deploy more troops later.

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Robin Bravender
Robin Bravender

Robin Bravender was the States Newsroom Washington Bureau Chief from January 2019 until June 2020. She coordinated the network’s national coverage and reported on states’ congressional delegations, federal agencies, the White House and the federal courts. Prior to that, Robin was an editor and reporter at E&E News, a reporter at Politico, and a freelance producer for Reuters TV.