U.S. House overwhelmingly votes to condemn Trump’s Syrian troop withdrawal

Smoke rises over the Syrian town of Ras al-Ain, as seen from the Turkish border town on October 09, 2019 in Ceylanpinar, Turkey. (Photo by Burak Kara/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House on Wednesday approved a resolution condemning President Donald Trump’s withdrawal of U.S. troops from northern Syria. 

The resolution passed the House with broad bipartisan support, delivering a stinging rebuke to the president. The final vote was 354-60. 

Democratic and Republican lawmakers in both chambers have slammed the president after he ordered the withdrawal of U.S. forces from the region. Critics blame the decision for allowing a Turkish incursion into the region that targeted U.S. Kurdish allies. 

“Since President Trump gave Turkey the green light to attack our Kurdish partners, Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate have been united in our swift and serious condemnation of this reckless action, which threatens countless lives, endangers our Kurdish partners and undermines our credibility in the world,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. said this week in a joint statement. 

The resolution states that “an abrupt withdrawal of United States military personnel from certain parts of Northeast Syria is beneficial to adversaries of the United States government, including Syria, Iran, and Russia.” It says that lawmakers oppose the troop withdrawal and it calls on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to immediately cease unilateral military action in northeast Syria. 

All but two members of Pennsylvania’s 18-member U.S. House delegation voted in favor of the resolution. Freshmen U.S. Reps. Dan Meuser, R-9th District, and John Joyce, R-13th District, voted against the resolution, according to an official House roll call.

In a statement released by his office, U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-1st District, joined the bipartisan chorus of condemnation.

“Giving the Turkish government license to attack our Kurdish friends sends the wrong message to our allies across the globe.” Fitzpatrick said. “Abandoning our allies who have fought alongside us is a terrible mistake that will cost our allies their lives and undermines United States credibility on the international stage.”

Taking to Twitter, U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-4th District, an outspoken White House critic and “yes” vote, said Trump’s withdrawal decision “has already cost many lives and endangered ourselves and our allies. This isn’t leadership [and] will have painful consequences for generations to come.”

Trump dismissed criticisms of his policy on Wednesday, saying the area is “not our border” and calling Kurdish forces “no angels,” according to NBC. 

A Senate version of the resolution has also been introduced by Sens. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and Todd Young, R-Ind.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, slammed the president’s move in an interview with reporters in the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. 

“I hope he will reconsider, stop the bloodshed, and reset the table before it’s too late,” Graham said. “His decision and line of thinking was against all sound military advice.”

Maine Democratic Rep. Jaren Golden voted for the resolution.

“I think as a member of the Armed Services Committee, as someone that served in the infantry, fought over in Iraq, I know this area very well,” he said. “The biggest concerns are the way in which the president did this — very abruptly, he did it without I think communicating and working with his advisers at the Pentagon and has really I think put American soldiers’ lives at risk.” 

Golden added, “you can’t just withdraw overnight.” 

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) was among the Republicans who voted to rebuke Trump. 

“I think that most people are upset that Turkey would attack the Kurds in the way that they are, and I think that the United States could have done more to try to prevent the kind of terrorist attacks that Turkey is reacting to, and at the same time prevent the kind of bloodshed that’s going on there,” Buck said in an interview Wednesday. 

Virginia Rep. Denver Riggleman, a freshman House Republican and a U.S. Air Force veteran, also supported the resolution. 

“I know there’s a destabilization factor that could happen there. We need to make sure we protect those who helped us, especially against ISIS,” he said. He added he’s worried about the “total destabilization affecting the Middle East,” and the possibility that removing troops now could mean being forced to deploy more troops later. 

Capital-Star Editor John L. Micek contributed additional reporting.

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