Senate Republicans joined Democrats in a rare GOP rebuke of President Trump’s plan to pull out of Syria and cut the 14,000 US troops in Afghanistan by half.
Senators voted 68-23 to close debate on an amendment to the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act, which affirms the US commitment to Israeli security, deepens ties with Jordan and holds those responsible for crimes against Syrian civilians accountable.
South Dakota Sen. John Thune, the No. 2 Senate Republican, said the resolution “reflects the thinking of a lot of our members,” signaling that the GOP is growing bolder in challenging the commander in chief’s foreign policy positions.
Asked what message the vote sent, Texas GOP Sen. John Cornyn told The Hill that it showed Congress was a “co-equal branch of government,” echoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s comments since the midterms.
The Senate will still need to schedule a second vote to add the amendment to the foreign policy bill, which will likely take place next week.
Earlier Thursday, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took to Twitter to explain his amendment.
“My amendment to S.1 would allow Senators to go on the record about what the United States should be doing in Syria and Afghanistan. ISIS and al Qaeda have yet to be defeated and American national security interests require continued commitment to our missions there,” McConnell tweeted.
That puts him at odds with the commander-in-chief, who said that ISIS had been defeated when he abruptly announced pulling troops from Syria.
The Kentucky lawmaker, who normally defers to Trump on most issues, also stressed the importance of coordination between the White House and Congress to develop long-term strategies in both nations, “including a thorough accounting of the risks of withdrawing too hastily.”
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