- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 17, 2019

Senators fought Thursday over how to try to patch up the mess in Syria, but it quickly became clear that beyond being frustrated with President Trump, there’s little unity on what, exactly, the U.S. should do.

Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, tried to force a symbolic rebuke of Mr. Trump, saying it would send a signal that might make the president reverse his decisions and send U.S. troops back in, but that was blocked by Sen. Rand Paul.

The Kentucky Republican said not only has Congress never authorized going to war in Syria, but sending troops back would mean putting them in between Turkey and the Kurds, both U.S. allies but who are now battling each other.

He suggested another option: halting U.S arms sales to Turkey, which he said would be a serious blow, rather than a symbolic rebuke.

That was blocked by Sen. James Risch, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, who told all sides to cool it and wait for his bill, which he said he’s about to introduce to deal with all sides of the situation.

“We have a comprehensive piece of legislation,” he said.

Mr. Trump made a surprise decision last week to withdraw U.S. troops from their position in Syria, pulling them from the middle of a civil war where they were acting as a buffer between various sides, and also helping the Kurds combat Islamic State forces.

The president said he was elected to get the U.S. out of endless wars.

His critics say his move, which he conveyed to Turkey’s government before announcing it publicly, amounted to a green light for Turkey — a NATO ally — to invade to do battle with the Kurds, who have been fighting alongside U.S. forces, and have been holding Islamic State prisoners for the U.S.

“The longer we wait, the more Kurds will die — our allies — the more ISIS prisoners will escape, and the greater danger, hour by hour, day by day, America falls in,” Mr. Schumer said

The anti-Trump resolution he tried to pass had cleared the House on Wednesday in an overwhelming bipartisan vote.

It chastised the president for his decisions and urged him to come up with a new strategy.

But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday he wants something “stronger,” including blessing the deployment of U.S. troops in Syria.

He said it was curious the House resolution didn’t include such language — and speculated it’s because Democrats would be split over that policy.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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