WASHINGTON — The U.S. House on Wednesday approved a resolution condemning President Donald Trump’s withdrawal of U.S. troops from northern Syria.
All four of Virginia’s Republican congressmen joined six Democrats in the delegation in supporting the measure. (U.S. Rep. Don McEachin, D-4th, did not vote).
“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,” said Republican U.S. Rep. Denver Riggleman, a U.S. Air Force veteran who represents Virginia’s 5th District. 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.
Sixty GOP lawmakers voted against the resolution. However, 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 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.”
Congress is also pressing ahead with sanctions against Turkey.
Our Kurdish allies have been instrumental in the fight against ISIS. That is why I joined my colleagues in supporting legislation which imposes crippling sanctions on Turkey that will not be lifted until they have withdrawn their military presence from Syria.
— Congressman Ben Cline (@RepBenCline) October 15, 2019
The vote on the resolution condemning the troop withdrawal came before the release by a Fox Business reporter of an exclamation-point strewn letter, dated Oct. 9, addressed to the president of Turkey that set social media afire Wednesday afternoon. The letter from Trump was so striking news organizations scrambled to confirm it.
Press office confirms this is real. https://t.co/uyprm6NYCj
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) October 16, 2019
“It is — quite something,” CNN’s Jake Tapper said on air after confirming the letter was real with the White House.
“Let’s work out a good deal! You don’t want to be responsible for slaughtering thousands of people and I don’t want to be responsible for destroying the Turkish economy — and I will,” Trump wrote. “Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool! I will call you later.”
It’s time for an intervention. pic.twitter.com/twjMXo9gfb
— Elaine Luria (@ElaineLuriaVA) October 16, 2019
Editor Robert Zullo contributed.