Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz chastised fellow lawmakers for voting to extend America’s ‘wars forever’
US lawmakers have voted against a bill that seeks to withdraw all US troops from Syria, opting to continue the years-long military occupation despite repeated objections from the Damascus government, which has rejected the presence armed as illegal.
While 56 Democrats joined 47 Republicans in supporting the GOP-sponsored bill, the Syria War Powers Resolution failed to pass on Wednesday in a 103-321 vote, facing stiff opposition bipartisan
Introduced by Florida Republican Matt Gaetz last month, the legislation would have ordered President Joe Biden to withdraw the 900 US troops still deployed in the Middle Eastern nation within six months. Arguing that Congress never authorized military action in Syria to begin with, Gaetz slammed lawmakers on both sides of the aisle after the ill-fated vote.
“There is no role for the United States of America in Syria. We are not a Middle Eastern power. We have tried to build a democracy on sand, blood and Arab militias,” he told the House. “Again and again, the work we do does not reduce the chaos. Often, it causes chaos, the same chaos that then leads to terrorism. While today’s vote may have failed, my fight to end wars forever and bring our troops home has only just begun.”
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Opponents of the War Powers Resolution expressed fears that a US withdrawal could mean the resurgence of terrorist groups in the region. Democrat Gregory Meeks argued that while he does not support an “indefinite” deployment, a withdrawal would be “premature.” He did not offer an alternative timeline for when US forces would have to leave the country, having occupied Syrian territory on and off for nearly a decade despite years of vocal objections from the government in Damascus.
Gaetz said that several previous inspector general reports concluded that a resurgence of the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) in Syria was “unlikely,” and asserted that the American presence has served as ” recruiting tool” for the infamous terrorist cell.
“We also have to recognize that Syria and Iraq are the two countries on planet Earth where we’ve done the most to fund ISIS. We give weapons to these so-called moderate rebels… and it turns out they’re not that moderate,” he continued, referencing- se to President Barack Obama’s policy of arming rebel groups seeking to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, many of whom maintained close ties to al-Qaeda and other jihadist factions.
Although Congress never approved the deployment of troops to Syria, three successive presidents have cited the military authorization passed after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, to support the decision. The same measure has been invoked as legal justification for more than 40 US military operations in at least 19 countries around the world since 2001, according to the Congressional Research Service.
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