The United States Senate voted on Thursday to advance an amendment that is critical of their President’s move to withdraw troops from Syria and Afghanistan. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is the man behind the amendment and forced a vote on it, as reported by CNN.
The vote came out to be 68-23 and the measure needed 60 votes to pass.
Twenty members of the Democratic caucus supported the bill and three GOP senators voted against advancing it.
A final vote on the overall bill is not expected before next week.
Thursday’s vote came as Republicans are skeptical about Trump’s approach to foreign policy and believe that he is pulling America off the world stage at a time US leadership is needed most.
“I’ve been clear about my own views on these subjects,” McConnell said during a floor speech. “I believe the threats remain. ISIS and al Qaeda have yet to be defeated. And American national security interests require continued commitment to our missions there.”
The amendment is non-binding but carries a blunt message to the commander-in-chief: “The on-going fight against these groups, without effective, countervailing efforts to secure gains in Syria and Afghanistan, could allow terrorists to regroup, destabilize critical regions, and create vacuums that could be filled by Iran or Russia to the detriment of United States interests and our allies,” the amendment states.
Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the second-ranking GOP leader, said on Wednesday that the public rebuke of Trump’s national security policies were needed because efforts to persuade him privately had failed.
“I think a number of our members, as you know, talk to the President on fairly regular basis and have articulated to him that they think the policies that the wants to employ with regard to Syria, for example, are not the right ones. That’s being conveyed,” Thune said.
Thune was also critical of Trump attacking his intelligence chiefs who testified this week that Trump’s public comments on a variety of national security issues were out of step with their professional assessments.
Democrats seem to be divided on the issue, where most who are likely to run for 2020 Presidential elections have opposed the amendment. However one of them, Sen Bernie Sanders said “We’ve been there for too long and we’ve got to get out. My concern is, what McConnell is saying is ‘let’s maintain the status quo.’ We’ve been in Afghanistan for 18 years, maybe we’ll be there another 18 years, I don’t know. That doesn’t make any sense to me, so I’m going to vote ‘no’ on that. On the other hand, while Trump is talking about getting us out, he’s doing it — as usual — in an abrupt way, without consulting with our allies, without developing a mechanism for a sensible withdrawal. So, I have problems with what Trump is doing. But I certainly have problems with what McConnell is proposing.”