Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, was among 60 lawmakers who voted against a bipartisan House resolution Wednesday to condemn President Donald Trump’s withdrawal of U.S. armed forces from Syria.
Wednesday’s resolution condemned the president’s decision to remove approximately 1,000 troops from the region, stationed there to help combat ISIS terrorists and assist allies in the area, including the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces. The resolution's final vote tally was 354-60.
On Wednesday, Reed stated in a speech on the floor of the House chamber that he opposed the resolution because he opposed stationing U.S. soldiers on foreign soil without congressional authorization.
“When I stood on this very floor during the Obama administration and the question of Syria came up, I remember many of my colleagues agreeing with me that we should not be in Syria with boots on the ground risking our most precious assets of our young men and women without a clear authorized use of military force [with] congressional approval [and] resolution to do so,” he said.
“By voting 'yes' on this resolution, you are authorizing the use of military force of our men and women on Syrian soil,” he said.
Reed addressed the issue again Thursday in a conference call with reporters.
He said a recent agreement for a cease-fire in Turkey's attacks on Kurdish forces in Syria, who they consider a terrorist group, is an indication that regional parties will coordinate with the U.S. to prevent a resurgence of ISIS or the expansion of Iranian or Russian influence in the region.
“I’m confident that there’s mutual interest in making sure that the ISIS threat is terminated and nullified going forward,” he said.
Tracy Mitrano, who lost to Reed in 2018’s general election and is pursuing the 23rd Congressional District Democratic nomination to challenge him again in 2020, spoke out against Reed’s position in a written statement.
Mitrano said Reed’s opposition to the House resolution lacks “courage” and “moral leadership.”
“I'm disappointed, but not surprised, to learn that Tom Reed voted against the House resolution,” she said. “Reed makes half-hearted attempts to distance himself from Trump administration policies, while continuing to support the president himself regardless of the damage he causes. That damage now includes the catastrophic decision to abandon our allies in the fight against ISIS."
Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. soldiers from Syria has been widely condemned throughout the U.S. political world on both the right and left.
The five-day ceasefire agreement by Turkey was announced Thursday by the White House. Turkish leaders said they would only agree to a permanent cease-fire if Kurdish forces cede territory in the region.
Reed also spoke to the media regarding the death of prominent Baltimore Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings.
Cummings died Thursday at age 68 due to "complications concerning long standing health challenges,” according to a spokesperson.
“He really epitomized to me the definition of a statesman, a classy individual who we all looked up to ... for that type of friendship and way to conduct themselves in ... being a member of Congress,” said Reed. “To many of us, the passing of Elijah is something I think we recognize on both sides of the aisle as a loss to the institution, as a loss to us as colleagues who knew him. To his entire family, we send our thoughts and condolences and want them to know that he was a very good man and he served well here in the United States Congress.”
Rep. Cummings was chairman of the House Oversight Committee and therefore one of the leaders of ongoing inquiries into President Trump ahead of a possible impeachment process.