The Senate voted on Thursday to advance legislation opposing President Trump's withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria and Afghanistan.
The measure, an amendment to a Middle East policy bill expected to pass next week, was drafted by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and passed in a bipartisan vote of 68-23. In December, Trump said the Islamic State has been defeated, and he would pull 2,000 troops from Syria and 7,000 from Afghanistan. The amendment states that "the precipitous withdrawal of United States forces from either country could put at risk hard-won gains and United States national security."
It was backed by almost every Senate Republican, with some liberal senators voting against it, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Sanders told reporters the United States has "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. What McConnell is saying is, 'Let's maintain the status quo.'" Catherine Garcia
The bill passed with a vote of 87-12, and was backed by conservative and liberal groups. Lawmakers spent more than a year negotiating the bill, which creates more rehabilitation programs, eases mandatory minimum sentencing, reduces the three-strike penalty from life in prison to 25 years, and lets some federal inmates earn time credits by taking part in special programs.
Now, the bill moves to the House, where it also has bipartisan support. After the Senate passed the measure, President Trump tweeted that he looks "forward to signing this into law!" Catherine Garcia