Northwest Georgia’s congressman was among the minority in the 354 to 60 House vote to condemn President Donald Trump’s withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria.
U.S. Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ranger, said the resolution — H.J. Res. 77 — was done without proper deliberation and contains a claim he finds personally offensive: That the abrupt withdrawal is beneficial to adversaries of the United States.
“I agree with President Trump’s goal to keep our country out of endless wars,” Graves said in a Friday statement.
“I also believe it was inappropriate for Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi to bring this resolution to a vote as Vice President (Mike) Pence and Secretary of State (Mike) Pompeo were traveling to Turkey to negotiate the current ceasefire,” the 14th District representative added.
Under an agreement made by the U.S. and Turkey, a cease-fire has been in place since Friday evening to last for five days, during which Kurdish fighters are supposed to pull back from border areas. The cease-fire has been shaken by fighting in one border town, and there so far has been no sign of any withdrawals by the Kurdish-led forces.
U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville, the 11th District congressman who formerly represented Floyd County, also was opposed to the measure, which is now awaiting action in the Senate.
Loudermilk said the resolution doesn’t carry the weight of law and wouldn’t change anything regarding what he described as a “tragic situation.”
“This vote was a tough decision for me, but I had concerns with some of the language used, and that the resolution was rushed to the House floor without going through the normal process,” Loudermilk said.
He and Graves both objected to the lack of classified briefings for all House members.
Graves said he did hear from Defense Secretary Mark Esper prior to the vote but left the meeting convinced that the resolution would harm efforts “to navigate a very complicated situation.”
Democrats hold a slim majority but the measure passed with strong Republican support — a rarity in the House, where GOP members are usually strongly loyal to Trump.
The short resolution details the U.S. partnership with Syrian Kurds in the counter-ISIS campaign and recounts the October actions that led to the withdrawal of support and subsequent Turkish incursion.
It ends with a list of five statements:
“(1) opposes the decision to end certain United States efforts to prevent Turkish military operations against Syrian Kurdish forces in Northeast Syria;
“(2) calls on Turkish President Erdogan to immediately cease unilateral military action in Northeast Syria and to respect existing agreements relating to Syria;
“(3) calls on the United States to continue supporting Syrian Kurdish communities through humanitarian support, including to those displaced or otherwise affected by ongoing violence in Syria;
“(4) calls on the United States to work to ensure that the Turkish military acts with restraint and respects existing agreements relating to Syria; and
“(5) calls on the White House to present a clear and specific plan for the enduring defeat of ISIS.”