Senate Republicans are not happy with Donald Trump, and today plan to take action that has been described as a “stunning rebuke” of the president.
For weeks now, GOP senators have told Trump not to declare a national emergency to build a border wall. Mitch McConnell and other Republican Senate leaders have completely rejected his national security policy in Syria and Afghanistan.
Senate Republicans were heavily bruised in the lengthy fight over the Trump’s government shutdown, the longest in history. And now they are sending out clear signals of their unhappiness with the administration on foreign policy. At the same time, Trump is threatening to cause another shutdown next month, and is heavily criticizing the heads of U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies.
Frustrated Republicans say it’s time for the Senate to reclaim more power over foreign policy and are planning to move a measure Thursday that is highly unusual in that it will be seen as a rebuke to the president who is a member of their own party.
“Power over foreign policy has shifted to the executive branch over the last 30 years. Many of us in the Senate want to start taking it back,” said a Republican senator closely allied with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who asked to remain anonymous.
GOP senators have expressed deep concerns about Trump’s refusal to listen to his senior military and intelligence advisers. They are afraid he is harming national security. They say the Senate has given up too much of its power over foreign policy. And they believe that now is the time to begin taking back the power given them in the U.S. Constitution.
The action planned by Senate Republicans is to vote today on an amendment sponsored by McConnell warning that “the precipitous withdrawal” of U.S. forces from Syria and Afghanistan “could put at risk hard-won gains and United States national security.”
The planned resolution will also say that the Senate believes that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and al Qaeda pose a “continuing threat to the homeland and our allies” and maintain an “ability to operate in Syria and Afghanistan.”
The Senate action will be a direct rebuttal against Trump’s claims made on Twitter that “we have defeated ISIS in Syria.”
McConnell said his amendment “simply re-emphasizes the expertise and counsel offered by experts who have served presidents of both parties,” a clear response to Trump’s tweets which criticized his intelligence advisers for being “naive.”
Yesterday Trump shocked Washington when he lashed out at Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and CIA Director Gina Haspel after they contradicted some of his false claims about the threats posed by North Korea and ISIS.
Coats and Haspel also upset Trump when they testified that Iran is in compliance with the nuclear treaty it signed with Western powers under the Obama administration.
Trump tweeted “the Intelligence people seem to be extremely passive and naive when it comes to the dangers of Iran. They are wrong!”
The president added in a follow-up tweet about Iran: “Perhaps Intelligence should go back to school!”
Republican members of Congress immediately pushed back against Trump’s criticism, saying the president needs to show more restraint.
“I don’t know how many times you can say this, but I would prefer that the president stay off Twitter, particularly with regard to these important national security issues where you’ve got people who are experts and have the background and are professionals,” said Senate Republican Whip John Thune (S.D.). “In most cases I think he ought to, when it comes to their judgment, take it into consideration.”
Thune praised Coats, a former senator, as “an incredibly capable, principled guy” who “is very committed to doing the right thing for the country.” Thune predicted that most Republican senators will vote for the resolution urging Trump to exercise caution in assessing troop forces in Syria and Afghanistan.
“It reflects the widely held view in our conference — again — you want to trust our military leaders when it comes to some of these decisions,” he said.
He added that “a number of our members” talk to the president on a regular basis “and have articulated to him that they think that the policies that currently he wants to employ with regard to Syria, for example, are not the right ones.”