House lawmakers look to reassure Australia after Mattis resignation

A bipartisan group of House lawmakers is reaching out to Australia to reassure the U.S. ally following the announced resignation of Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisNew 2020 candidate Moulton on hypothetical Mars invasion: 'I would not build a wall' Trump learns to love acting officials Shanahan says he's 'never favored' Boeing as acting Defense chief MORE.

In a letter spearheaded by Reps. Joe CourtneyJoseph (Joe) D. CourtneyDems offer smaller step toward ‘Medicare for all' Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by America's 340B Hospitals — Powerful House committee turns to drug pricing | Utah governor defies voters on Medicaid expansion | Dems want answers on controversial new opioid House lawmakers look to reassure Australia after Mattis resignation MORE (D-Conn.) and Mike GallagherMichael (Mike) John GallagherHouse fails to override Trump veto on border wall The 25 Republicans who defied Trump on emergency declaration Graham to push for US to recognize Golan Heights as part of Israel MORE (R-Wis.) and sent by Australian Ambassador Joe Hockey, members of the Congressional Friends of Australia Caucus stressed the importance of the alliance between the countries after Mattis said he would leave the Trump administration.

“We therefore share many Australians' concerns about Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis's recent announcement that he will step down from his position in February 2019,” they wrote in Friday's letter obtained by The Hill. “Secretary Mattis has been a stalwart proponent of American leadership and a free and open Indo-Pacific, both which have benefitted the United States and Australia for decades. He has also been an advocate for maintaining and strengthening America's alliances and partnerships around the world, including with Australia.”

Mattis's departure date has since been moved up to Jan. 1.

The congressional group cited Mattis’s resignation letter, which stated the United States, while an “indispensable nation in the free world,” can’t protect its interests without alliances with countries with common goals and values.

“[W]e are writing to strongly reaffirm our agreement with Secretary Mattis that it is in the United States’ ­enduring interest to maintain and strengthen our alliances, built of shared values and shared interests, particularly in the case of our specia­l relationship with Australia,” the lawmakers wrote. “Moving forward, we want to extend our deep and sincere commitment to maintain America's special bond and alliance with your country.”

In addition to Courtney and Gallagher, the letter was signed by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac ThornberryWilliam (Mac) McClellan ThornberryOvernight Defense: Air Force general tapped for Pentagon No. 2 | Dem presses Trump officials on Yemen strike | Pentagon details 4M border deployment cost Top Armed Services Republican: 'I don't think anybody is satisfied' with Space Force proposal Top senators warn Turkey: Choose between Russia missile system or US fighter jet MORE (R-Texas) and ranking member Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithThe importance of intercontinental ballistic missiles to nuclear defense Trump team spurns Adam Smith with its trade stance Top Armed Services Republican: 'I don't think anybody is satisfied' with Space Force proposal MORE (D-Wash.), as well as Reps. 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Beyer: What I learned In Central America MORE (D-N.J.). 

Mattis announced his resignation on Thursday after the White House announced it planned to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria — a move Mattis strongly opposed.