Sinema breaks party ranks on Syria/Iraq troop vote
WASHINGTON – Rep. Kyrsten Sinema was the sole Arizona Democrat to break party ranks Wednesday as the House rejected a Democratic proposal calling for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria and Iraq.
All five Republican members of the state’s House delegation voted against the resolution, which failed on a 139-288 vote. Sinema was one of 66 Democrats to vote against the measure. Only 19 Republicans voted for it.
Supporters said the measure is needed because Congress has failed to act on President Barack Obama’s request for an authorization to use military force in the Middle East. The last authorization for authorized use of military force in the region expired Aug. 7, 2014.
The resolution called for the withdrawal of all U.S. forces that were deployed to the region after Aug. 7, except for those needed to protect diplomatic forces and U.S. personnel.
It would have required the withdrawal within 30 days, unless “the president determines that it is not safe” to do so, in which case he would have until Dec. 31 for the withdrawal.
Arizona lawmakers were not available for comment on the vote Wednesday night.
Rep. Raul Grijalva said Thursday that his vote for the resolution was a demand for leaders in Congress to "find the courage to do their day jobs."
"Congress has the Constitutional responsibility to debate and declare war, yet this institution has failed to live up to that responsibility. It has been over 10 months since the U.S. began bombings in Iraq and Syria," Grijalva said.
“This war might take a generation of war,” said Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Massachusetts, a lead sponsor of the resolution. “We’ve spent $2.7 billion on this war, 3,500 boots on the ground.
“We owe it to the armed forces if we’re going to send them into war to at least authorize this war, or stop it all together,” McGovern said during floor debate.
But Republicans said pulling out troops now would be irresponsible, when ISIS still poses a significant threat and does not appear to be going anywhere.
“The real question that the proponents of this resolution are begging is that we should do nothing, that we should withdraw,” said Rep. Ed Royce, R-California. “But that is irresponsible.
“Merely acting without a way forward is foolhardy, it’s not strategic,” Royce said. “If we were to remove all our troops, ISIS would surely become stronger and threaten our European allies, and in turn the U.S.”
But McGovern and other supporters said that the truly irresponsible thing to do it to keep troops in the region without authorization. That’s what the resolution was about, McGovern said.
“We should take some responsibility for this war, that’s all this resolution is trying to do – to force our members to make a decision on this war,” he said.
“A vote for this resolution is not a resolution to withdraw but simply to put a deadline for our Republican counterparts as to what to do with our troops in Syria,” McGovern said.