Skip to comments.Congress set for showdown with Trump over Kurds
Posted on 10/10/2019 2:04:53 AM PDT by robowombat
President Trump is barreling toward a showdown with Congress over his decision to pull back U.S. troops in northern Syria despite widespread opposition.
The announcement, which caught leadership and traditional GOP allies flatfooted, sparked a wave of condemnation, with Republicans calling it a disaster in the making, a catastrophic mistake and a terrible decision.
Lawmakers are already weighing how to respond to Trumps decision, setting the stage for a high-profile clash with Trump as soon as Congress returns from a two-week break on Monday.
Congress must and will act to limit the catastrophic impact of this decision, said Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), a member of House GOP leadership, adding that Trumps decision was having sickening and predictable consequences.
Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) warned that unless Turkey changes its behavior everything is on the table, including suspending arms sales, to suspending economic aid to even considering their status in NATO.
Lawmakers, scattered across the country for a two-week break, are having behind-the-scenes talks about potential legislative action and publicly throwing out a myriad of ideas ranging from a resolution opposing Trumps actions to sanctions against Turkey to inserting language into a mammoth defense policy bill.
Multiple committees are looking at possible legislative efforts to put the House on record against the Presidents outrageous decision, a House Democratic leadership aide told The Hill.
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y) separately predicted that Congress will take some form of action given the broad condemnation sparked by Trumps decision.
Lawmakers are under growing pressure to mount a formal response after Turkey began airstrikes and shelling against Kurdish forces in northern Syria and, hours later, moved ground troops into the country after Trump pulled back U.S. troops. Lawmakers have warned for days that Trumps decision could endanger the Kurds, who were integral to the U.S.-led fight against ISIS.
Trump on Wednesday tried to distance himself from Turkeys actions, saying the United States does not endorse this attack and has made it clear to Turkey that this operation is a bad idea. But he also said the United States should not be part of endless, senseless wars.
Trump reiterated that the U.S. stance is that it is now Turkeys responsibility to ensure ISIS prisoners being held by the Syrian Democratic Forces do not escape and further claimed Ankara has committed to protecting civilians and ensuring no humanitarian crisis takes place.
Thats done little to stem the flow of criticism from Capitol Hill.
I said that President Trump's decision to abandon the Kurds ... was terribly unwise. Today, we are seeing the consequences of that terrible decision. If the reports of Turkish strikes in Syria are accurate, I fear our allies the Kurds could be slaughtered, said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine).
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) lamented the tragic loss of life among friends shamefully betrayed.
One option under discussion would be to slap new sanctions on Turkey for invading Syria.
Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said after Turkeys actions that they have reached an agreement on sanctions legislation. The bill would target Turkeys energy sector and military. It also includes visa restrictions for Turkish leadership, including President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and would sanction any assets they have within U.S. jurisdiction.
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BY ABBVIE I am pleased to have reached a bipartisan agreement with Senator Van Hollen on severe sanctions against Turkey for their invasion of Syria. While the Administration refuses to act against Turkey, I expect strong bipartisan support, Graham said.
Most Members of Congress believe it would be wrong to abandon the Kurds who have been strong allies against ISIS, he added.
Van Hollen said the sanctions bill will be introduced next week and that they want a quick vote.
Will ask for an immediate vote to send a clear message to Turkey that it must cease and desist its military action, withdraw its fighters from the areas under attack, and stop the tragic loss of life, he said.
Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), who has aligned herself closely with Trump, said on Wednesday that she will support new financial penalties.
I condemn in the strongest possible terms any U.S. policy that will result in endangerment of the Kurds who have sacrificed so much blood and treasure alongside American forces. ... Turkey must pay the price for its aggression toward our Kurdish partners, Blackburn said.
Trump downplayed the potential pushback, saying he thinks its OK if Congress imposes sanctions on Turkey even as he disagreed with Grahams desire to stay in Syria and dismissed the Kurds because they didn't help us in the Second World War.
I think Lindsey would like to stay there for the next 200 years and maybe add a couple a hundred of thousand people every place, but I disagree with Lindsey on that, Trump told reporters at the White House. But I will tell you that I do agree on sanctions, but I actually think much tougher than sanctions if [Erdogan] doesnt do it in as humane a way as possible.
Graham is also crafting a resolution formally opposing Trumps decision, adding that he expects it will receive strong bipartisan support. A spokesman for Graham told The Hill this week that they were in the process of drafting the resolution.
It would mark the second time the Senate has rebuked Trump on Syria after providing veto-proof support for an amendment from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) warning the president against withdrawing troops from Syria or Afghanistan earlier this year.
McConnell sent a warning shot on Monday saying that the conditions that produced that bipartisan vote still exist today.
Lawmakers could also slip language into a mammoth defense bill, known as the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). House and Senate lawmakers are negotiating on a final version of the legislation.
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) called Turkeys actions unacceptable and warned that Ankara will face serious economic, diplomatic and security consequences.
Erdoğans actions risk undermining our bilateral relationship, destabilizing northeastern Syria, squandering hard-won progress against ISIS, creating a new humanitarian crisis and harming our Kurdish partners, Inhofe said.
A spokeswoman for Inhofe said because the NDAA is currently in the conference process she couldnt speculate on whether it will include a response to the Syria situation.
A House Armed Services Committee spokeswoman told The Hill that lawmakers, led by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), are working on legislation related to the issue separately from the NDAA, but could not immediately provide more detail. A House Foreign Affairs spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.
More than 50 House Democrats, led by Rep. Jason Crow (D-Colo.), sent a letter to Trump on Wednesday afternoon demanding he answer 10 questions about his Syria policy, including how the United States will ensure the Kurds protection and what Trump considers to be off limits for Turkey to do.
This decision jeopardizes decades of trust in American solidarity and will only serve to undermine current and future alliances, they wrote.
In the meantime, calls are mounting for the Trump administration to testify about the decision, providing a high-stakes setting where they would likely face a bipartisan grilling.
Romney and Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) are urging Senate Foreign Relations Committee leadership to have administration officials testify before the panel and explain to the American people how betraying an ally and ceding influence to terrorists and adversaries is not disastrous for our national security interests.
Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), the top Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, also called for Defense Secretary Mark Esper to testify before Congress as soon as possible.
I would hope Secretary of State [Mike] Pompeo and Acting Director of National Intelligence [Joseph] Maguire will be called before the respective oversight committees as well, Reed said.
We need a full accounting and there is no time to waste. Congress must send a clear, bipartisan signal to this president that we do not condone his decision, he added. And it has to go beyond tweets and statements. We need action.
I stopped reading right there. Oh the Hugemannity.
I stand with President Trump!
They won't, so they should shut up.
Yup. And until they do, President Trump can tell them to pound sand. He alone is the CinC of the armed forces.
If you play the ‘stay-in-Syria’ scenario....it’s basically an open-ended deployment for thirty years, and try to pretend that you partition Syria off with no real public understanding that you were inventing a Kurdish homeland....where a hundred years ago...few if any Kurds existed.
It’s not our job to partition lands, or act like some fake guard unit. I’d also invite people to review the Kurd history of the past hundred years and the number of occasions that they went after and killed Christians in Syria.
I didn’t know a president/CIC required a declaration of peace from Congress before withdrawing from a war/non-war.
Whatever side one comes down on the merits, no one can seriously dispute that the process was appallingly mishandled by this administration. The president should have sold his decision to congressional leaders, even Democrats, instead of leaving himself vulnerable on the eve of impeachment so unnecessarily.
Let us let Bishop Romney decide.
Bishop was RIGHT to impose ObamaCARE/ROmneyCARE (to help Bain)
and the Bishop Romney was RIGHT when he imposed his homosexual marriages
by fiat (and against the Mass. Constitution).
........... /s(is this really necessary?)
Was war declared?
While I normally agree with you on military matters, all of the only appropriate responses to the intellectual diarrhea you just tried to submit are both scatological and profane.
Go find a declared and funded war to talk about, and only then can you rationally make that assertion.
I agree. Id like to know who advised the administration to do this.
What used to be one or two key committee chairs getting money from black ops under the table must now be spread around like the rest of the Pentagon budget to ensure that Critters in every State gets a bit.
I stand with the Prez. Why waste our American Treasure getting killed, maimed and the Lord know what by these animals. They have been fighting for hundreds of years let them kill each other.
I'd like to know whether any of this was vetted?
I cannot maintain that this is what happened but the reports I read tell me the president got off the phone with Erdogan and surprised the world by announcing this policy. Yes, I know that this had been part of his campaign and I know that he had mooted the subject of withdrawing troops from Syria some time ago, but how was this vetted?
Was the president apprised fully of the effect it would have on Congress? Was the president advised about the damage to the Kurds? Was the president advised about the possible damage to him in the impeachment fiasco? Was the president advised about the potential consequences of securing other allies, especially Muslim allies, to fight our battles for us? Was the president apprised of the rather large political and geopolitical downside consequences of his decision and the relatively paltry upside advantages to his decision? Was this the right place and the right time to effect his stated policy (with which I agree in general terms) of withdrawing American forces from endless, fruitless wars?
Let’s see... Events seem to indicate that Trump knew about Turkey’s plans and pulled our 50 troops out of harm’s way ahead of the invasion. Those 50 were never going to stop an invasion, but were in prime position to get killed for nothing.
Trump did the right thing.
Why did we have troops there in the first place? Why do we have troops scattered all over the world? Any use of the military for other than national defense and to provide humanitarian aid on a limited basis is misuse.
[Id like to know who advised the administration to do this.]
No offense, but thats idiotic. Selling a decision to withdraw troops from a place where they were never supposed to be in the first place is preposterous. Thats like saying the President should have sold his decision to Congress on ending Obamas totally illegal DACA executive order before canceling it.
Remember when Congress got their panties in a wad when B.O.pulled the many troops out of Iraq? Me neither.
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