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Rand Paul teams up with Ocasio-Cortez, Omar to press Trump on Syria withdrawal

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulMichigan Republican isolating after positive coronavirus test GOP Rep. Mike Bost tests positive for COVID-19 Top Democrats introduce resolution calling for mask mandate, testing program in Senate MORE (R-Ky.) is teaming up with liberal House Democrats, including firebrand freshmen Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezHillicon Valley: Threatening emails raise election concerns | Quibi folds after raising nearly B | Trump signs law making it a crime to hack voting systems Ocasio-Cortez draws hundreds of thousands of viewers on Twitch livestream OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Democrats push expansion of offshore wind, block offshore drilling with ocean energy bill | Poll: Two-thirds of voters support Biden climate plan | Biden plan lags Green New Deal in fighting emissions from homes MORE (N.Y.) and Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarHillicon Valley: Threatening emails raise election concerns | Quibi folds after raising nearly B | Trump signs law making it a crime to hack voting systems Ocasio-Cortez draws hundreds of thousands of viewers on Twitch livestream Veterans launch pro-law enforcement super PAC with battlegrounds ad buys MORE (Minn.), to urge President TrumpDonald John TrumpJudge rules to not release Russia probe documents over Trump tweets Trump and advisers considering firing FBI director after election: WaPo Obama to campaign for Biden in Florida MORE to follow through on his pledge to pull U.S. troops from Syria and Afghanistan, a move that's opposed by most congressional Republicans.

“We write in bipartisan support of your announcement of the start of a ‘deliberate withdrawal’ of U.S. military forces in Syria, and we welcome the completion of this process within the next six months,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to Trump.

Others who signed the letter occupy opposite ends of the political spectrum on Capitol Hill: Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeEnd the American military presence in Somalia Ted Cruz won't wear mask to speak to reporters at Capitol Michigan Republican isolating after positive coronavirus test MORE (R-Utah) and Reps. Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaExpiring benefits raise economic stakes of stalled stimulus talks Overnight Defense: Pentagon IG to audit use of COVID-19 funds on contractors | Dems optimistic on blocking Trump's Germany withdrawal | Obama slams Trump on foreign policy Watchdog to audit Pentagon's use of COVID-19 funds on defense contractors MORE (D-Calif.), Ted LieuTed W. LieuPelosi suggests Trump setting 'dangerous' example with quick return to White House The spin on Woodward's tapes reveals the hypocrisy of Democrats Larry Kudlow defends response to coronavirus: Trump 'led wisely' MORE (D-Calif.), Thomas MassieThomas Harold MassieHouse in near-unanimous vote affirms peaceful transfer of power Ron Paul hospitalized in Texas GOP lawmaker praises Kyle Rittenhouse's 'restraint' for not emptying magazine during shooting MORE (R-Ky.), Justin AmashJustin AmashOcasio-Cortez draws hundreds of thousands of viewers on Twitch livestream Hillicon Valley: House votes to condemn QAnon | Americans worried about foreign election interference | DHS confirms request to tap protester phones House votes to condemn alleged hysterectomies on migrant women MORE (R-Mich.), Jeff DuncanJeffrey (Jeff) Darren DuncanHillicon Valley: House votes to condemn QAnon | Americans worried about foreign election interference | DHS confirms request to tap protester phones House approves measure condemning QAnon, but 17 Republicans vote against it Biden's Iran policy is deeply flawed MORE (R-S.C.), Paul GosarPaul Anthony GosarHillicon Valley: House votes to condemn QAnon | Americans worried about foreign election interference | DHS confirms request to tap protester phones House approves measure condemning QAnon, but 17 Republicans vote against it Pelosi must go — the House is in dire need of new leadership MORE (R-Ariz.) and Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.).

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They argue that the 2015 deployment of U.S. military forces to Syria was never approved by Congress, in violation of the Constitution and the 1973 War Powers Resolution.

“We believe that the stated intention of withdrawing our forces is appropriate, and we look forward to the orderly return of our service members from this theater of conflict,” they wrote.

Republican leaders in Congress have pushed back against Trump’s December announcement that he would pull U.S. troops from Syria and substantially reduce the number of American combat personnel in Afghanistan.

The president did not consult with Gen. Joseph Votel, who heads U.S. Central Command, before making his Dec. 19 announcement, which caught Republicans in Congress by surprise.

The Senate in early February passed a resolution drafted by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOn The Money: Power players play chess match on COVID-19 aid | Pelosi bullish, Trump tempers optimism | Analysis: Nearly 1M have run out of jobless benefits Trump casts doubt on hopes for quick stimulus deal after aides expressed optimism Power players play chess match on COVID-19 aid MORE (R-Ky.) that stated the sense of the Senate was that Islamic militants in Syria and Afghanistan still pose a threat to the United States. It passed 70-26.

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Paul told reporters Wednesday that Trump hasn’t changed his mind on withdrawing U.S. forces, and that the president delivered a blunt message to Senate Republicans at a lunch meeting last week.

“The finishing words of the lunch to us were, 'Whether you like [it] or not, I’ve promised people not to leave troops in the Middle East forever, and that includes,' he specifically mentioned, 'Syria and Afghanistan,'” Paul said.

The Kentucky Republican acknowledged that voices in the administration and the Republican Party have tried to rein in the president by characterizing possible troop withdrawal as being dependent on conditions on the ground, language that has been used for years to justify a continued U.S. combat presence.

“There are competing forces, like in any administration," Paul said. "There are a lot of people involved and many of them are from what I call the foreign policy swamp and they want to stay forever everywhere and they think we have endless resources and endless amounts of money."

Paul previously teamed up with Sen. Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Judge tosses land management plans after ousting Pendley from role | Trump says he could out-raise Biden with calls to Wall Street, oil execs | Supreme Court to review Trump border wall funding, asylum policies OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Pendley says court decision ousting him from BLM has had 'no impact' | Court strikes down Obama-era rule targeting methane leaks from public lands drilling | Feds sued over no longer allowing polluters to pay for environmental projects  Pendley says court decision ousting him from BLM has had 'no impact' MORE (D-N.M.) on legislation to end the war in Afghanistan, an effort lawmakers promoted Tuesday in the Kennedy Caucus Room at an event hosted by the Committee for Responsible Foreign Policy.

Members of the conservative-liberal coalition that sent the letter to Trump say the push is about protecting Congress’s constitutional power to decide when the nation goes to war, something that has steadily drifted to the executive branch over the past 55 years following the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which authorized the Vietnam War.

“The president cannot pursue a foreign policy agenda without the advice and consent, let alone the support, of the Congress," Khanna said in a statement. "Thanks to Sen. Paul for joining me in bringing an end to these wars. The Constitution isn’t partisan."