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Top Democrats introduce bill to stop Trump's Germany withdrawal

Top Democrats introduce bill to stop Trump's Germany withdrawal
© Greg Nash

A pair of top Democrats has introduced a bill aimed at blocking President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden to nominate Linda Thomas-Greenfield for UN ambassador: reports Scranton dedicates 'Joe Biden Way' to honor president-elect Kasich: Republicans 'either in complete lockstep' or 'afraid' of Trump MORE’s plan to withdraw thousands of U.S. troops from Germany.

The bill, introduced by Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking member Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezDemocratic senators urge Facebook to take action on anti-Muslim bigotry Trump appointee sparks bipartisan furor for politicizing media agency Senate Democrats hold talkathon to protest Barrett's Supreme Court nomination MORE (D-N.J.) and House Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelDozens of progressive groups endorse Joaquin Castro for Foreign Affairs chair Castro pledges to term limit himself if elected Foreign Affairs chair Former VOA producer sues US global media agency over termination MORE (D-N.Y.) in their respective chambers, would prohibit funding to implement a withdrawal in Europe unless several conditions are met.

“The current U.S. troop presence in Germany is in the U.S. national security interest. Full stop,” Menendez said in a statement. “The administration has made no effort to explain how our country is stronger because of this drawdown decision. Because we’re not. This drawdown weakens America and Europe. And Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinPutin not ready to recognize Biden win Putin: Russia ready to give Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine to other countries Trump to participate in virtual G-20 summit amid coronavirus surge MORE understands and appreciates that better than anyone.”

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In his own statement, Engel said that “rather than heeding the overwhelming bipartisan rebuke from Congress about this scheme and its catastrophic consequences, President Trump has once again made foreign policy decisions based solely on his absurd affection for Vladimir Putin, a murderous dictator who has attacked America and our allies.”

Trump confirmed Monday that he plans to slash the number of U.S. troops in Germany, which is home to the U.S. military’s European and Africa command headquarters.

Trump, faulting Germany for not meeting NATO’s defense spending goal, said he would cut the number of troops to 25,000. There are about 35,000 troops there now, and the number can go as high as 52,000.

In 2014, NATO countries agreed to each spend 2 percent of their gross domestic products on their defense budgets by 2024. Just eight countries are at the 2 percent mark right now. Several others have plans to meet it by the deadline, but Germany is not on track to meet the goal.

NATO allies raised concerns about a U.S. withdrawal from Germany at a meeting of defense minister Wednesday. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters that Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperTrump administration pulls out of Open Skies treaty with Russia The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Trump, Biden clash over transition holdup, pandemic plans President is wild card as shutdown fears grow MORE pledged that “the U.S. will consult with NATO allies on the way forward.”

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In Congress, Trump’s plan has received a bipartisan backlash since it was first reported earlier this month. Last week, 22 Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee wrote Trump a letter urging him to reverse course.

Menendez and Engel’s bill would prohibit funding to withdraw troops from or close a base in Europe unless a host government submits a written request for a reduction or the president submits a formal declaration of his intent to withdraw to Congress that includes a justification for doing so.

The president’s notice would have to come 180 days before a drawdown happens and would need to be followed by public testimony from the secretaries of Defense and State. Congress would also have to pass a resolution endorsing the withdrawal for it to proceed.

The bill would also require a report that covers the process leading to the decision to draw down in Germany, a description of communication with Germany and other NATO allies and the national security implications of a withdrawal.