On Thursday, an overwhelming bipartisan majority in the Senate voted 68 to 22 to end debate on a resolution condemning President Donald Trump for his planned rapid withdrawal of troops from Syria and Afghanistan.
The amendment, which is now sailing toward easy final passage, was authored by one of Trump’s fiercest and most powerful allies: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Only 4 Republicans and 19 Democrats voted against it.
“The precipitous withdrawal of United States forces from either country could put at risk hard-won gains and United States national security,” reads the amendment, adding that “it is incumbent upon the United States to lead, to continue to maintain a global coalition against terror and to stand by our local partners.”
Experts have warned that a total U.S. withdrawal from Syria, which is still embroiled in a chaotic civil war spawned eight years ago by protests against dictator Bashar al-Assad, would advance the interests of Iran and Russia. It could also damage our credibility with our allies fighting with us in the coalition, like the Kurdish-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, and raise the possibility ISIS could regain territory. Trump’s decision to pull out of Syria, first announced in a tweet, was reportedly the last straw for former Defense Secretary James Mattis, who resigned a day after the announcement.
This amendment marks the second time in two months that the Senate has voted on a bipartisan basis to condemn Trump’s foreign policy. 56 senators voted in December to end U.S. assistance to the Saudi-led coalition waging a war in Yemen, a conflict where farms and food stores have allegedly been deliberately targeted to trigger civilian famines. The vote was in part also a condemnation of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is suspected of playing a role in the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Between these jabs at the president and the reports that McConnell is working to prevent Trump from staging a second shutdown over his border wall, there is a sense that, at least for the time being, the Senate GOP may be feeling burned out by Trump’s antics.