McConnell to rebut Trump on Syria, Afghanistan drawdown

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBill Kristol resurfaces video of Pence calling Obama executive action on immigration a 'profound mistake' Winners and losers in the border security deal House passes border deal, setting up Trump to declare emergency MORE (R-Ky.) is poised to use a foreign policy bill to break with President TrumpDonald John TrumpBill Kristol resurfaces video of Pence calling Obama executive action on immigration a 'profound mistake' ACLU says planned national emergency declaration is 'clear abuse of presidential power' O'Rourke says he'd 'absolutely' take down border wall near El Paso if he could 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 MattisOvernight Defense: Trump to sign funding deal, declare national emergency | Shanahan says allies will be consulted on Afghanistan | Dem demands Khashoggi documents Does ‘limited war’ mean limited risks for aggressors? US-led coalition says it struck Syrian mosque used by ISIS 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.