By: Craig Gilbert of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
WASHINGTON - Wisconsin’s seven U.S. House members joined a lopsided bipartisan majority Wednesday in decrying President Donald Trump’s withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria, condemning that decision as beneficial to America’s adversaries.
The resolution passed the House by 354-60, with the support of every Democrat voting and more than two-thirds of Republicans.
Those voting for the measure included Wisconsin’s four House Republicans: Jim Sensenbrenner, Glenn Grothman, Mike Gallagher and Bryan Steil. All three House Democrats from Wisconsin also voted yes: Ron Kind, Gwen Moore and Mark Pocan. (One of Wisconsin’s eight House seats is vacant due to the resignation of Sean Duffy of the 7th District).
The vote was a rare two-party rebuke of the president and was preceded by widespread expressions of dismay within Trump's own party over the decision to withdraw troops, seen by critics as opening the door for Turkey to move militarily against the Kurds — a U.S. ally in the fight against the Islamic State — and potentially helping the Islamic State to reorganize itself and gain new strength.
In an interview Wednesday after the vote, Sensenbrenner said the president's troop withdrawal has created in the short term a vacuum in the region that Russia is filling.
"And the long-term consequence I think is people will wonder what the word of the United States is worth, because we've been backing the Kurds for a very, very long time and all of a sudden that backing was pulled out almost without notice. And as a result, a group of people that has been essentially fighting on our side in all of the messes in the Middle East ends up getting a stab in the back," said Sensenbrenner, a member of the House foreign affairs committee.
Republicans Gallagher and Steil have both signed on to a bill to impose sanctions on Turkey in response to Turkey's offensive against the Kurds.
Some of Trump's strongest GOP allies in Congress, such as South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, were pointed in their criticism this week of the president's policy. GOP congressional leaders also registered their disapproval.
Adding to the backlash on Capitol Hill was the president’s news conference Wednesday where he said the conflict between the Turks and the Kurds has “nothing to do with us,” and said of the Kurds, “they’re not angels.”