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 MattisWhite House staggers after tumultuous 48 hours Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Trump insists Turkey wants cease-fire | Fighting continues in Syrian town | Pentagon chief headed to Mideast | Mattis responds to criticism from Trump The Hill's 12:30 Report: White House does damage control after Mulvaney remarks MORE.

In a letter spearheaded by Reps. Joe CourtneyJoseph (Joe) D. CourtneyState dinner highlights the enduring importance of US-Australia alliance House committee heads demand Coast Guard Academy explain handling of harassment allegations House votes to repeal ObamaCare's 'Cadillac tax' MORE (D-Conn.) and Mike GallagherMichael (Mike) John GallagherHillicon Valley: GOP lawmakers offer election security measure | FTC Dem worries government is 'captured' by Big Tech | Lawmakers condemn Apple over Hong Kong censorship Lawmakers condemn Apple, Activision Blizzard over censorship of Hong Kong protesters On The Money: Fed officials saw rising risk of recession | Ocasio-Cortez, Cruz blast NBA for 'outrageous' response to China | Prospects dim for trade breakthrough with China 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 ThornberryPelosi arrives in Jordan with bipartisan congressional delegation Furious Republicans prepare to rebuke Trump on Syria Five ways Trump's Syria decision spells trouble MORE (R-Texas) and ranking member Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithTop Democrats warn against withdrawing from treaty that allows observation flights over Russia This year, let's cancel the Nobel Prize in economics Pentagon space agency to request .6 billion over five years: report MORE (D-Wash.), as well as Reps. 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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.