McConnell to rebut Trump on Syria, Afghanistan drawdown

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellEXCLUSIVE: Trump on reparations: 'I don't see it happening' Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids — Trump issues order to bring transparency to health care prices | Fight over billions in ObamaCare payments heads to Supreme Court Hillicon Valley: Senate bill would force companies to disclose value of user data | Waters to hold hearing on Facebook cryptocurrency | GOP divided on election security bills | US tracking Russian, Iranian social media campaigns MORE (R-Ky.) is poised to use a foreign policy bill to break with President TrumpDonald John TrumpNew EPA rule would expand Trump officials' powers to reject FOIA requests Democratic senator introduces bill to ban gun silencers Democrats: Ex-Commerce aide said Ross asked him to examine adding census citizenship question MORE, saying on Tuesday that he will offer an amendment that would warn against a "precipitous withdrawal" of troops from either Syria or Afghanistan. 

McConnell, speaking from the Senate floor, said his proposal would "acknowledge the plain fact" that al Qaeda, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and their affiliates "pose a serious threat to us here in home."  

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“It would recognize the danger of a precipitous withdrawal from either conflict and highlight the need for diplomatic engagement and political solutions to the underlying conflicts in Syria and Afghanistan," McConnell said. 

McConnell hadn't formally filed the amendment as of early Tuesday afternoon. 

But arguing that the U.S. government had seen the "downsides" of announcing that the U.S. military will "be gone on a certain date," McConnell is using the amendment to urge Trump to maintain a footprint in both nations. 

"My amendment would also urge continued commitment from the U.S. military and our partners until we have set the conditions for the enduring defeat of these vile terrorists," he said.  

"We are the leader of the free world, and it’s incumbent upon the United Stares to lead, to maintain a global coalition against terror and to stand with our partners engaged in a daily fight against terrorists," McConnell continued. 

McConnell's amendment comes after a Syria policy bill overcame an initial hurdle on Monday evening. 

Though the underlying bill doesn't speak directly to the U.S. military's involvement in Syria, senators are expected to offer amendments to address the issue after Trump's decision last month to withdraw U.S. troops set off alarm bells on Capitol Hill. 

In addition to McConnell, Sen. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.) has filed an amendment that would authorize Trump to use the U.S. military to defend Kurds in Syria.

Lawmakers have increased pressure on Trump to reconsider his withdrawal, which precipitated the resignation of former Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisNew Defense chief: Our 'priorities remain unchanged' The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump targets Iran with new sanctions Trump urged to quickly fill Pentagon post amid Iran tensions MORE, and McConnell warned earlier this month that he expected the Senate would have a "contentious" debate on the issue. 

"There is no question that we continue to face serious challenges from al Qaeda and ISIS in Syria as well as from Iran, Russia and the Assad regime itself. And I anticipate this body will debate U.S. military strategy toward Syria in the coming weeks as it conducts oversight over the administration's apparently ongoing review of its Syria policy," he said at the time.

Two officials told The New York Times last month 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 on Monday 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.