WASHINGTON — The U.S. House on Wednesday approved a resolution condemning President Donald Trump’s withdrawal of U.S. troops from northern Syria.
Only two of North Carolina’s 13 House members voted against the resolution: former Freedom Caucus chair and longtime Trump supporter and confidant Mark Meadows of the 11th District and the recently-elected Rep. Greg Murphy of the 3rd District in eastern North Carolina. Both lawmakers are Republicans. Two other Republicans, Rep. Ted Budd of the 13th District and newly-elected Dan Bishop of the 9th District opted not to vote. Five Republicans — Representatives Virginia Foxx (5th), George Holding (2nd), Patrick McHenry (10th), David Rouzer (7th) and Mark Walker (6th) — along with Democrats Alma Adams (12th), G.K. Butterfield (1st) and David Price (4th) voted in support of condemning Trump’s action.
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.
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. 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.”
According to Defense News, Congressman Meadows said he would not vote for the resolution despite his “concern for the Kurds.” This is from the DN story:
The resolution, Meadows said, ‘is taking on a political tinge, which disappoints me.’ He challenged House Democrats to introduce an authorization of the use of military force for Syria if it they are serious about maintaining a troop presence there.”
Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) was among the other 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.
Robin Bravender is the Washington Bureau Chief for the State Newsroom network, of which Policy Watch is a member. Rob Schofield contributed to this report.