Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., echoed President Donald Trump's 'America First' approach to foreign policy in expressing his opposition to a House resolution expressing opposition to Trump's decision to remove U.S. troops from northern Syria. Gaetz was one of 60 lawmakers, all Republicans, to oppose the resolution. The resolution passed the House with a 354-60 vote, with 129 Republicans joining 225 Democrats in support of the resolution.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz was among a minority of 60 Republicans who voted Wednesday against a House resolution expressing opposition to President Donald Trump's decision just days earlier to withdraw U.S. military forces from northern Syria.
The move effectively abandoned Kurdish forces in the region — who had long been allied with the United States in the battle against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters — to a Turkish invasion.
The resolution passed the House with a 354-60 vote, with all opposition coming from Republican lawmakers. Voting in favor of the resolution were 129 Republicans and 225 Democrats.
The bipartisan resolution, with dozens of co-sponsors including Florida Republican Reps. Francis Rooney and Ted Yoho, was drafted in opposition to "the decision to end certain United States efforts to prevent Turkish military operations against Syrian Kurdish forces in Northeast Syria." The resolution added that "thousands of Syrian fighters, including Syrian Kurds, fought courageously with the United States against the brutality of ISIS throughout Syria, liberating nearly one-third of Syrian territory from ISIS' so-called 'caliphate' ... ."
In explaining his opposition to the resolution on the House floor, Gaetz — a staunch Trump defender — referenced Trump's 'America First' approach to foreign policy.
"We are not the world's police force. We are not the world's piggy bank," said Gaetz, a Republican who represents Northwest Florida in Congress. "I support an 'America First' policy on our foreign policy, and I oppose this resolution."
Gaetz, crediting the Kurds for their work against ISIS, went on to say "in Syria, we have tens of Americans stuck between armies of tens of thousands who have been fighting each other for hundreds of years and who will likely be fighting each other hundreds of years from now. Our mission to deprive ISIS of caliphate land has largely been accomplished — with the help of the Kurds — and with over $9 billion being paid to the Kurds. The Kurds have been fighting bravely where they live, but they have been trained, funded and equipped by the United States."
The congressman also suggested that continued involvement in the region was of questionable value, saying, "The blood of America's patriots is among our most sacred currency, and it must be spent only when absolutely vital to protect American interests."
In another development in his ongoing support for Trump, Gaetz announced Wednesday that he and more than 30 other House Republicans will hold a press conference regarding the House inquiry into the possible impeachment of the president. According to a Wednesday announcement from Gaetz's office, the GOP lawmakers "will demand increased transparency and inclusion in the impeachment process from House Democrats, specifically Speaker Nancy Pelosi and (House Intelligence Committee) Chairman Adam Schiff."
The announcement came two days after Gaetz was kicked out of a House Intelligence Committee hearing on the impeachment inquiry because he does not serve on that committee.
The press conference had been scheduled for Thursday, but was postponed following the early Thursday death of Rep. Elijah Cummiings, D-Maryland. Gaetz announced the cancellation via Twitter, writing, "Many are in mourning and we hope that peace and comfort can enter the hearts of those who cared for Elijah."
No new date for the press conference was immediately announced.