House lawmakers, in a rare show of bipartisan support, on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a measure opposing President Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. forces from northern Syria, a military decision that was followed by a Turkish assault on the region.
The resolution, introduced by Reps. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., and Michael McCaul, R-Texas, calls upon the White House to put forward a plan for the “enduring defeat” of the Islamic State and demand that Turkey cease its military operations in Syria.
“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,” the measure read.
Turkish tanks and troops stationed near Syrian town of Manbij, Syria, Tuesday.
(Ugur Can/DHA via AP)
In a floor speech ahead of the vote, Engel said the resolution “will send an unambiguous, bipartisan, hopefully bicameral rejection of Trump’s policy in Syria.”
The measure passed 354-60 with four members voting present. All 60 nays came from Republicans.
“President Trump is the only one who can fix the calamity that he created in Syria. There is no better way to pressure the president to undo the damaging and dangerous actions he has taken than to pass this bipartisan resolution that does just that,” Schumer said in a statement. “I urge leader McConnell to put the bill on the floor immediately. The lives of Kurds — and our national security — are at stake.”
A companion Senate resolution, introduced Wednesday by Sens. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., Bob Menendez, D-N.J., and Todd Young, R-Ind., called on the White House to support Syrian Kurdish forces whose communities have been hurt by violence.
The bicameral measures came amid heavy criticism over Trump’s decision and ahead of a planned trip by Vice President Pence to press Turkey for a cease-fire in its attack on Syrian Kurdish fighters.
The removal of troops from Syria effectively abandoned the Kurdish fighters – who’ve long been allies in the fight against ISIS – and cleared the way for Turkey’s invasion. After backlash over Trump’s decision, the president sought new leverage with Turkey by imposing economic sanctions.
Speaking to reporters Wednesday, President Trump defended his decision to remove troops from northern Syria, saying that Turkey’s invasion is “not our problem.”
Hours later, Schumer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters outside the White House that they had walked out of a meeting with Trump and accused him of having a “meltdown,” calling Pelosi a “third-rate politician” and having no plan to deal with a potentially resurgent ISIS.
Fox News’ Chad Pergram, Andrew O’Reilly, and Gregg Re contributed to this report.