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

(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.

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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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