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 TrumpGraham: America must 'accept the pain that comes in standing up to China' Weld 'thrilled' more Republicans are challenging Trump New data challenges Trump's economic narrative 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 McConnellTwo years after Harvey's devastation, the wake-up call has not been heeded McGrath releases ad blasting McConnell with coal miners in Kentucky: 'Which side are you on?' Prediction: 2020 election is set to be hacked, if we don't act fast 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 MattisOnly Donald Trump has a policy for Afghanistan New Pentagon report blames Trump troop withdrawal for ISIS surge in Iraq and Syria Mattis returns to board of General Dynamics 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.