Thwarting Trump, Senate advances legislation on Syria troops

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He openly mocked the idea of an Election Day holiday on the Senate floor and called it a “power grab”

The procedural vote to cut off debate meant that the amendment would be added to a broader Middle East security bill likely to come up for a final Senate vote next week.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) set social media alight on Wednesday after he described legislation to make Election Day a paid holiday for federal workers as a "power grab" by Democrats.

Speaking on the amendment's language on USA involvement in Afghanistan, libertarian Republican Senator Rand Paul tweeted that "It is ludicrous to call withdrawal after 17 years 'precipitous.'" On the other side of the aisle, Democratic Senators Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Jeff Merkley and Elizabeth Warren all voted no.

WASHINGTON ― A big bipartisan majority in the Senate bucked President Donald Trump over his foreign policy in the Middle East on Thursday, expressing their symbolic opposition to Trump's plans for a quick withdrawal of USA troops from their yearslong fight against terrorism overseas.

It calls upon the Trump administration to certify conditions have been met for the groups' "enduring defeat" before any significant withdrawal from Syria or Afghanistan.

The Senate voted 68-23 in favor of a non-binding amendment, drafted by Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell saying it was the sense of the Senate that Islamic militant groups in both countries continue to pose a "serious threat" to the United States.

An Al-Qaeda offshoot that eventually became known as ISIS would go on to take half of Iraq and Syria, compelling a new USA intervention in both countries in 2014.

"I believe the threats remain. That's why this [troop withdrawals] is a very bad idea".

The vote is the latest indication of deepening cracks between the Republican Senate and Trump on foreign policy matters.

Though many Democrats have argued that the USA should eventually withdraw from the conflicts in Syria and Afghanistan, around half of them supported McConnell's resolution. 56 senators voted in December to end US assistance to the Saudi-led coalition waging a war in Yemen, a conflict where farms and food stores have allegedly been deliberately targeted to trigger civilian famines. But she said she also agreed with McConnell that the "precipitous withdrawal" from either country without political resolutions would risk what troops there have already achieved.

Independent Senator Bernie Sanders told reporters that "we've been in Afghanistan for a longer period than any war in American history; Syria, we've been there for too long and we've got to get out", according to The Daily Beast.

"It's time to bring our troops home from Afghanistan and Syria, " Paul wrote in a tweet, saying he stands with Trump. It also would let state and local governments refuse to do business with anyone who boycotts Israel.

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