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The Senate passed legislation on Thursday breaking with President Trump’s Syria policy. 

Senators voted 77-23 to send the legislation to the House that includes a provision warning Trump against a “precipitous” withdrawal of troops from Syria and Afghanistan.

{mosads}It also asks the administration to certify that certain conditions have been met “for the enduring defeat of al Qaeda and ISIS before initiating any significant withdrawal of United States forces from Syria or Afghanistan.”

The bill was approved after it overcame a filibuster earlier this week. 

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) was the only Republican senator to vote against the bill. 
 
Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) accused the media of mischaracterizing the provision as a “rebuke” of Trump. 

“I keep reading where the national media writes that the United States Senate rebuked — they used the word ‘rebuked’ — President Trump. Nothing could be further from the truth,” Risch, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said. 

In addition to the Syria amendment, the bill also included sanctions against the Syrian government, increased support for Israel and Jordan and a provision that would let states penalize businesses that take part in boycotts or divestments of Israel. 

Both the Syria amendment and the anti-BDS provisions sparked division among Democrats. 

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) warned that the Syria proposal, offered by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), is “the absolute wrong way to address President Trump’s backwards foreign policy in the Middle East.”

In response to concerns from Democrats, the Senate easily cleared a tweak to McConnell’s amendment that would clarify that the resolution should not be “constructed as a declaration of war or an authorization of the use of military force.”

Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from Syria, which precipitated the resignation of former Defense Secretary James Mattis, sparked fierce backlash on Capitol Hill. 

Two officials told The New York Times last year that the administration had ordered the U.S. military to start withdrawing troops in Afghanistan, but Trump, who has long railed against the war there, has not made an official announcement.

The Washington Post reported last week that the United States and the Taliban were moving closer to a deal that could result in the removal of U.S. troops from the country.

Meanwhile, Democrats had raised First Amendment concerns about the anti-BDS provision, which splintered most of the party’s 2020 contenders and caucus leadership. 

“While I do not support the BDS movement, we must defend every American’s constitutional right to engage in political activity. It is clear to me that this bill would violate Americans’ First Amendment rights,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said in a statement last week. 

Tags Afghanistan Bernie Sanders Chris Murphy Donald Trump Foreign policy James Mattis Jim Risch Mitch McConnell Rand Paul Senate Syria Syria troop withdrawal

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