McConnell to rebut Trump on Syria, Afghanistan drawdown

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOvernight Health Care: GOP senator says drug price action unlikely this year | House panel weighs ban on flavored e-cigs | New York sues Juul McConnell hopes Senate impeachment trial 'not too lengthy a process' Former Speaker Boehner's official portrait unveiled MORE (R-Ky.) is poised to use a foreign policy bill to break with President TrumpDonald John TrumpDem senator says Zelensky was 'feeling the pressure' to probe Bidens 2020 Dems slam Trump decision on West Bank settlements Trump calls latest impeachment hearings 'a great day for Republicans' 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: Erdoğan gets earful from GOP senators | Amazon to challenge Pentagon cloud contract decision in court | Lawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families Amazon to challenge Pentagon's 'war cloud' decision in federal court Former Mattis staffer: Trump 'shooting himself in the foot' on foreign policy 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.