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Hours Before SOTU, Senate Republicans Break With Trump

Senate approves legislation warning against withdrawal from Syria, Afghanistan
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 5, 2019 6:30 PM CST
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., joined at left by Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., speaks to reporters in advance of President Donald Trump's State of the Union speech, on Capitol Hill in Washington,...   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

(Newser) – Hours before President Trump was to deliver his State of the Union address Tuesday, the Senate once again made clear it disagrees with him on Syria and Afghanistan. In a 77-23 vote, senators approved a Middle East policy bill that will be sent to the House; it includes a provision warning the president against the "precipitous" withdrawal of troops from the aforementioned countries and asks that the White House first make sure an "enduring defeat" of al-Qaeda and ISIS is imminent, the Hill reports. It also imposes new sanctions on Syria and increases US military alliances with Syria neighbors Israel and Jordan, CNN reports.

Just one Republican senator, Rand Paul, voted against the bill; the amendment urging Trump not to withdraw troops was actually authored by Mitch McConnell, which CNN calls "a rare rebuke of the president by a GOP leader." The amendment had also been referred to in those terms when it cleared a filibuster last week. But Republican Sen. Jim Risch, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, says it's not accurate to call the move a "rebuke," adding that "nothing could be further from the truth." (Here's what Trump had to say back to the Senate after last week's vote.)

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