- The Washington Times - Monday, February 4, 2019

Senators gave final approval Monday to legislation opposing President Trump’s Syria and Afghanistan troop withdrawals, voting overwhelmingly to urge him to revisit his plans and come up with a more careful approach.

The 70-26 vote saw nearly all Republicans and a majority of the Democratic Caucus vote to back an ongoing military commitment in both countries.

“A broad consensus about American leadership in the world exists in this body. It is time to reaffirm our commitment to that vision and to the men and women fighting on the ground to uphold it,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The vote was cast as a prod to Mr. Trump to halt his announced withdrawals from Syria and Afghanistan.

Some Democrats had worried Monday’s vote could be seen as lending new legal backing to the 2001 authorization for the use of military force against al Qaeda — legislation that has since been stretched to cover U.S. military intervention in more than a dozen countries, including Syria. But an amendment by Sen. Robert Menendez eased those fears, clarifying that the vote was not an endorsement of war powers.

Opponents included every senator considering a 2020 presidential run, and four Republicans, who said U.S. foreign policy needs a rethink.

“What is the one thing that brings Republicans and Democrats together? War. They love it,” said Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican, who pushed for withdrawal.

The troop withdrawals vote came as part of a broader debate over U.S. policy in the Middle East, and legislation that would specifically allow localities to refuse to do business with organizations that boycott Israel.

Senators on Monday headed off a filibuster on a 72-24 vote, setting up final passage later this week.

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