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 TrumpDeSantis on Florida schools reopening: 'If you can do Walmart,' then 'we absolutely can do schools' NYT editorial board calls for the reopening of schools with help from federal government's 'checkbook' Mueller pens WaPo op-ed: Roger Stone 'remains a convicted felon, and rightly so' 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) MenendezKoch-backed group urges Senate to oppose 'bailouts' of states in new ads Thomas Kean wins GOP primary to take on Rep. Tom Malinowski Trump administration moves to formally withdraw US from WHO MORE (D-N.J.) and House Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelChina must be held accountable for its egregious actions against Hong Kong Voice of America not extending foreign journalists' visas: report New York candidates left on hold as primary results trickle in 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 PutinTrump calls for 'sick' author of 2016 dossier to be jailed Trump, Johnson and Netanyahu: Western nationalism's embattled icons Lincoln Project offers list of GOP senators who 'protect' Trump in new ad MORE understands and appreciates that better than anyone.”

ADVERTISEMENT

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 EsperSenate Democrats demand to see copies of Trump's intelligence briefings on Russian bounties Overnight Defense: Top general says military must take 'hard look' at Confederate symbols on installations | Milley vows to 'get to bottom' of Russia bounty intel | Woman to join Green Berets for first time Top general vows to 'get to the bottom' of Russia bounty intel MORE pledged that “the U.S. will consult with NATO allies on the way forward.”

ADVERTISEMENT

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.