GOP senator: Senate needs to 'step up' to Trump on foreign policy

Sen. Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyOvernight Defense: Pick for South Korean envoy splits with Trump on nuclear threat | McCain blasts move to suspend Korean military exercises | White House defends Trump salute of North Korean general WH backpedals on Trump's 'due process' remark on guns Top GOP candidate drops out of Ohio Senate race MORE (R-Pa.), one of the most influential voices in the Senate Republican conference, says he and his GOP colleagues “need to step up” to balance President TrumpDonald John TrumpCummings says Ivanka Trump not preserving all official communications Property is a fundamental right that is now being threatened 25 states could see severe flooding in coming weeks, scientists say MORE’s foreign policy decisions.

Toomey said on Sunday that the “vast majority of Republicans” disagree with Trump’s sudden and unexpected announcement that he would withdraw 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria because he believes the terrorist threat posed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria in the region has been defeated.

“I think senators need to step up and reassert a bigger role for the Senate in finding our foreign policy,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”


He called on fellow GOP lawmakers to “speak out,” arguing “we don’t report to the president.”

It was a notable statement from one of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellRock the Vote President says Dem reform bill 'shines a light' on dark money The Hill's Morning Report - Trump's intraparty feuds divide Republicans Trump's attacks on McCain exacerbate tensions with Senate GOP MORE’s (R-Ky.) most trusted advisers on key policy issues.

“I strongly disagree with this decision to withdraw prematurely, in my view, from Syria. I think senators should speak out,” Toomey said.

“And look, we were elected separately from the president. We don't report to the president. We should cooperate where we can. And where we need to disagree, we should be willing to do that,” he added.

Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria was swiftly followed by the resignation of Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisOvernight Defense: Pentagon chief under investigation over Boeing ties | Trump uses visual aids to tout progress against ISIS | Pentagon, Amnesty International spar over civilian drone deaths Pentagon watchdog probing whether acting chief boosted Boeing Overnight Defense: Judge says Trump can't implement transgender policy | Trump floats admitting Brazil to NATO | Mattis returning to Stanford MORE, a general who has the confidence of many senators on both sides of the aisle.

One major GOP criticism of the withdrawal is that it undercuts Kurdish allies and could weaken other U.S. alliances.

“The greatest asset we have is that most people around the world want to be allied with us. So that gives us enormous ability to, it's a force multiplier, it's a great ability to achieve our goals and I don't think the president shares that view nearly to the extent that the rest of us do,” Toomey said on NBC.

Trump’s announced withdrawal from Syria caught Senate Republicans by surprise and they complained to Vice President Pence at a lunch meeting last Wednesday about getting blindsided.

About a dozen Senate Republicans grilled Pence at the closed-door meeting and said they disagree with the decision.

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump's intraparty feuds divide Republicans Trump's attacks on McCain exacerbate tensions with Senate GOP Republicans defend McCain amid Trump attacks MORE (R-S.C.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said last Thursday he will introduce a resolution calling on Trump to reverse course and maintain the American military presence in Syria.

Toomey on Sunday acknowledged “we have an impulsive president” when asked about Trump’s leadership style and his unexpected decision to reject a short-term spending measure that would have kept the federal government fully funded through Feb. 8.

Funding for 25 percent of federal government expired at midnight Saturday and Congress has adjourned until Dec. 27, leaving departments and agencies shuttered well into this week.

While Senate Republicans were frustrated by Trump’s U-turn on the stopgap funding measure, which administration officials said earlier in the week the president would sign, they are more alarmed over Mattis’s resignation.

“I am still in the mode of working with the president where I can, and trying to persuade him and move in a different direction where we have to. And I think with respect to foreign policy, in general, and Syria, in particular, we really have to step up,” Toomey said on Sunday.