Despite Overwhelming Bipartisan Support, Senate Republican Blocks Schumer Attempt To Hold A Vote On Bipartisan, Bicameral Resolution Opposing President Trump’s Disastrous Decision On Syria

October 22, 2019

Washington, D.C. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer today went to the Senate floor to make a unanimous consent request to hold a vote on H.J.Res. 77, a bipartisan, bicameral House-passed resolution opposing President Trump’s recent and disastrous decision on Syria. Republican Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) blocked passage of this critical resolution last week and today objected to even holding a Senate vote, which passed the House last week 354-60 with the support of House Republican leadership and the overwhelming majority of House Republicans. This bipartisan resolution rejects President Trump’s dangerous actions in Syria and calls on President Trump to support Kurdish communities, to work to ensure that the Turkish military acts with restraint, and to present a clear strategy to defeat ISIS.

Below are Leader Schumer’s remarks, which can also be found here.  

I am rising once again ask the Senate’s consent to move to the House resolution condemning the president’s abrupt decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria.

Despite the Pandora’s box of problems the president’s decision has opened – the slaughter of our partners the Kurds, and I think many of us on both sides of the aisle ache for the Kurds, who risked their lives, many of them lost their lives so our soldiers would not be in harm’s way – the strategic gains of our adversaries in Tehran, Moscow, and Damascus – and most troublingly, the potential resurgence of ISIS – the president has failed to articulate any strategy at all. We have asked to have Secretary Pompeo, Secretary Esper, Director Haspel come before us. They’ve cancelled again today, because they don’t have a plan. Now this is America at risk - we in New York know better than anybody else how a small group of people, thousands of miles away, evil people, can cause terrorism, and hurt us. And there is no strategy about what to do with the tens of thousands of ISIS prisoners and their fellow travelers, who had been locked up and guarded by the Kurds. No one believes—and I’ve talked to the top military and intelligence people—that either Syria or Turkey has the interest in preventing ISIS from escaping that we do. Erdogan, in fact, hates the Kurds far more than he hates ISIS.

So every day this lack of policy, this lack of common sense, from the president and this White House puts American lives in danger. What’s the best way to get the president to act? Well my friends, you know it. When Republican Senators protest what the president has done, he sometime acts. Witness Doral. I guarantee you my speeches had very little effect on him, but Republicans did.

Well this is far more important than Doral. This is America and lives at stake. Our battle against terrorism which we fought jointly, most of the time, is now being jeopardized.

And frankly, when Leader McCarthy and Representative Scalise and Representative Cheney can vote for this kind of resolution, why should we not be doing the same? It will send a better message to the president than anything else we can do. My friend the Republican Leader says we need a stronger resolution. Quibbling over words at a time when America is danger doesn’t make sense to me. Particularly a resolution that he knows will not pass the House and not go to the president’s desk.

So I would plead with my colleagues, let’s move forward. I plead with my friend from Kentucky. They’re both my friends from Kentucky. But I plead with the junior senator from Kentucky, to not stand in the way. He has a different worldview than almost all of us. We talked early this morning. I asked him: Was he against going after the Taliban and Bin Laden when they hit us in America, in New York? And he said no. Well this is the same kind of thing. We’re happy to vote on his resolution. Let’s vote on both.

This is momentous. Terrorist acts from escaped ISIS prisoners might not occur tomorrow, they might not occur six months from now, they might not occur a year from now. But they may happen. They almost certainly will at some point in the future. And we will risk lives, American lives, of our intelligence officials, of our special forces. We will risk the security of America. We will spend millions of dollars. The sooner we can undo this—and the only person who can is President Trump and the only people who can really pressure him are sitting right here—the better. I would plead with my colleague from Kentucky and with all of us, because even if he objects we could pass this joint resolution within a few days, to do it. Our security, the security of this wonderful country and its beautiful 320-some-odd million people deserve no less.