Senate adds rebuke of Trump’s Syria policy to Middle East bill

Senate adds rebuke of Trump’s Syria policy to Middle East bill
© Stefani Reynolds

The Senate voted on Monday to include rebuking President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump denies telling Bolton Ukraine aid was tied to investigations Former senior Senate GOP aide says Republicans should call witnesses Title, release date revealed for Bolton memoir MORE’s Syria policy in a foreign policy bill set to pass the chamber later this week. 

Senators voted 70-26 on the amendment from Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFormer senior Senate GOP aide says Republicans should call witnesses Democrats step up pressure over witnesses after Bolton bombshell Bolton book alleges Trump tied Ukraine aid freeze to Biden investigations: NYT MORE (R-Ky.), which warns the Trump administration from a “precipitous” withdrawal of U.S. troops in Syria and Afghanistan. 

The amendment was virtually guaranteed to be added to the legislation after if overcame a 60-vote filibuster late last week. 

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“When America’s national security and vital interests are at stake, some circumstances require not only the use of important diplomatic tools but also direct involvement from the United States. That’s why I introduced an amendment ... so the Senate can speak clearly and directly about the importance of our nation’s ongoing missions in Afghanistan and Syria,” McConnell said ahead of Monday’s vote.

McConnell’s amendment also urges 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."

In response to concerns from Democrats, the Senate also 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 MattisJames Norman MattisLawmakers push back at Pentagon's possible Africa drawdown Overnight Defense: Book says Trump called military leaders 'dopes and babies' | House reinvites Pompeo for Iran hearing | Dems urge Esper to reject border wall funding request Trump called top military brass 'a bunch of dopes and babies' in 2017: book MORE, 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.