Bipartisan condemnation of Trump’s Syria actions, but 3 AZ Republicans stand with him

By: and - October 16, 2019 2:16 pm

Smoke rises over the Syrian town of Ras al-Ain, as seen from the Turkish border town of Ceylanpinar, Turkey, on Oct. 15, 2019. The military action is part of a campaign to extend Turkish control of more of northern Syria, a large swath of which is currently held by Syrian Kurds, whom Turkey regards as a threat. U.S. President Donald Trump granted American approval to this campaign, withdrawing his country’s troops from several Syrian outposts near the Turkish border. Photo by Burak Kara | Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Three Arizona Republicans voted against a resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday condemning President Donald Trump’s withdrawal of U.S. troops from northern Syria. 

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

Reps. Andy Biggs, Paul Gosar and Debbie Lesko were among the 60 Republicans who voted against the measure.

Rep. David Schweikert, the only other Republican in the House delegation, voted to condemn Trump’s move. The five Democrats in Arizona’s delegation all voted in favor of the resolution.

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 into the region 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.”

Biggs, a Republican from Gilbert, told Fox News Wednesday morning that he supported Trump’s decision to pull American troops out of the region and allow Turkey to invade because Turkey has sought to invade Syria “for decades” and their doing so allows for a “natural balance” in the region.

“Quite frankly, he’s allowing what I, as a realist, would call a natural seeking of balance of power,” Biggs told Fox News anchor Harris Faulkner. 

He also said that the U.S. military should not “over-extend” itself by remaining in Syria defending the Kurds from a Turkish invasion.

“If we over-extend, then we get things like a $23 trillion national debt,” he said.

In a written statement, Lesko said Trump had no option but to withdraw American troops because otherwise they would have been in harm’s way when Turkey, a NATO ally, invaded Syria: “The information that I have received is that the Turkish President called President Trump and said Turkey would be invading Syria and that they were going to do it no matter what—even though a small number of American troops were near the border. President Trump did not have a lot of options. Sending more U.S. troops into Syria or using air strikes against a NATO ally do not seem like good options to me. I cosponsored sanctions against Turkey for their actions but did not support a resolution that second guessed the informed decisions of our Commander in Chief.”

A request for comment from Gosar was not returned.

***UPDATED to include a response from Lesko.***

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Robin Bravender
Robin Bravender

Robin Bravender was the States Newsroom Washington Bureau Chief from January 2019 until June 2020. She coordinated the network’s national coverage and reported on states’ congressional delegations, federal agencies, the White House and the federal courts. Prior to that, Robin was an editor and reporter at E&E News, a reporter at Politico, and a freelance producer for Reuters TV.

Jim Small
Jim Small

Jim Small is a native Arizonan and has covered state government, policy and politics since 2004, with a focus on investigative and in-depth policy reporting, first as a reporter for the Arizona Capitol Times, then as editor of the paper and its prestigious sister publications. He has also served as the editor and executive director of the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting.