3 Michigan reps. don’t vote to condemn Trump’s Syrian troop withdrawal

President Donald J. Trump talks with President of the Republic of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the leaders lounge at the G20 Japan Summit Friday, June 28, 2019, in Osaka, Japan. | Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead, Flickr
Updated, 5:58 p.m. with comments from Rep. Amash

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

The action allowed a Turkish offensive into the country in which the Kurds, longtime U.S. allies, have been targeted. ISIS fighters have escaped from prisons and reports say more than 130,000 people have been displaced from their homes.

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

Amash, Dems bash Trump for emboldening Turkey, abandoning Kurdish allies

Two Michigan House members were among the 60 GOP lawmakers voting against the resolution, U.S. Reps. Jack Bergman (R-Watersmeet) and Tim Walberg (R-Tipton). The chamber’s only independent, U.S. Rep. Justin Amash of Cascade Township has been a fierce critic of Trump’s actions, but voted present. He wrote on Twitter that the resolution represented a “false choice.”*

Justin Amash | Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

“The only alternatives in Syria are not perpetual U.S. presence or the current disaster. Our troops should have come home long ago. The disaster resulted from President Trump’s egotistical, transactional approach. He put the U.S. in a position of weakness by ignoring consequences,” Amash wrote.*

“Today’s joint resolution presented precisely the false choice above. That’s why I voted present. Americans don’t want perpetual war, and Congress should vote on war if they believe in it. Nonetheless, we need much better leadership in the White House. President Trump is reckless,” he continued.*

Eleven Michigan representatives voted for the resolution: all seven Democrats and four Republicans.

U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell | Andrew Roth

“Once again, President Trump’s lack of a clear strategy in the Middle East is harming American interests abroad,” said U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn). “This rash decision is causing pain and suffering, and puts into question our commitments to our long-standing allies. “The Kurds have been key allies in the fight against ISIS and we should not have turned our backs on them. This strong, bipartisan vote in the House today send a strong message of disapproval of these actions.”

U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flint) said Trump’s “abandonment of our Kurdish partners in Syria sends a chilling message to every other American ally across the globe.” 

Kildee added that he was glad to see bipartisan for the resolution.

Dan Kildee | Susan J. Demas

“But there are real life-and-death consequences to this unhinged presidency. For years, my Republican colleagues have normalized the President’s behavior, always looking the other way as the President has trampled over the rule of law and the Constitution,” he said. “Only now do they want to distance themselves from this dangerous and immoral decision that benefits America’s adversaries, including ISIS, Russia, Iran and Syria. My Republican colleagues are incredibly late to condemn this rogue presidency, and I’m afraid that the damage has already been done.”

A number of Democratic and Republican lawmakers in both chambers have slammed the president after he ordered the withdrawal of U.S. forces from the region. 

“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,” U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said this week in a joint statement. 

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) answers questions during a press conference at the U.S. Capitol on July 11, 2019 in Washington, DC. | Win McNamee/Getty Images

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 U.S. Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.). 

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), chair 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. 

Lindsey Graham at the National Guard Senate Caucus breakfast in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., Feb. 23, 2016. | U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Michelle Gonzalez, Wikimedia Commons

“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.”

U.S. 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. 

Robin Bravender
Michigan native Robin Bravender is the Washington, D.C. Bureau Chief for States Newsroom, a network of nonprofit news publications, including the Michigan Advance. Previously, Robin was a reporter for Politico, E&E News and Thomson Reuters.
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Susan J. Demas is an 18-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 3,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 60 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.

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