October 16, 2019
WASHINGTON — The U.S. House, including several members from Texas, overwhelmingly passed a resolution Wednesday that condemned President Donald Trump's latest actions in the war-torn country of Syria.
The legislation put 354 House members — a bipartisan majority of the Texas delegation among them — on the record opposing Trump's decision to pull American troops out of Syria. That policy shift created an opening for Turkey to invade the northern Syrian regions held by longtime allies of the United States, the Kurds.
All Texas Democrats backed the resolution, as did most Texas Republicans.
But seven Texas Republicans — most of whom represent deeply Republican areas of the state — were among 60 House Republicans to oppose the measure: U.S. Reps. Brian Babin of Woodville, Michael Burgess of Lewisville, John Carter of Round Rock, Louie Gohmert of Tyler, Lance Gooden of Terrell, Randy Weber of Friendswood and Roger Williams of Austin.
Since Trump's decision, Turkish troops have invaded Kurds in Syria. Television images from the region have shocked the American public, and the issue is one of the few points of policy in which congressional Republicans have been willing to oppose Trump.
The key Texas player on the matter was U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul of Austin, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He helped write the legislation with the committee chairman, U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel, D-New York.
"My colleague Eliot Engel and I drafted this resolution to show that we do not support this decision by the administration and to call on Turkey to end this destructive campaign in Syria," McCaul said Wednesday from the House floor.
"In this time of crisis, I'm proud to work with him to lead the most bipartisan committee in the Congress, and today may be a dark day, but it it would be much darker if we were divided instead of standing united."
The Kurds are a mostly Sunni Muslim ethnic group without a country. The 25 million to 30 million people who make up this group live in northern Iraq, eastern Turkey, western Iran, northern Syria and Armenia, per CNN. The Kurdish people and the United States share a decadeslong alliance, and the Kurds were integral to containing ISIS terrorists.
Trump inflamed the situation just before the vote, saying the Kurdish people are "not angels, if you take a look" on live television.
Trump further suggested that the Kurdish people may ally in the future with Russia, describing the current situation as "a lot of sand. They’ve got a lot of sand over there. So there’s a lot of sand that they can play with."
All of the Texans who serve on the Foreign Affairs Committee — Democratic U.S. Reps. Colin Allred of Dallas, Joaquin Castro of San Antonio, Vicente Gonzalez of McAllen and Ron Wright of Arlington — voted in support of the resolution.
A number of Texas members were quick to voice their disapproval beyond their votes.
"I am mostly concerned about the reputational damage that has been done," Allred said Wednesday at a committee hearing. "Why would anyone align with us going forward?”
Republican U.S. Rep. Will Hurd of Helotes issued a statement in the afternoon on the vote, calling the withdrawal of troops a "disastrous decision," while Castro called the move "impulsive."
The outlier within the delegation was U.S. Rep. Chip Roy, an Austin Republican, who voted "present."
On Twitter, Roy explained his vote. In his framing, supporting the resolution would be joining a Democratic effort to politically undermine the president amid an impeachment inquiry, among other concerns.
But Roy added that to oppose the resolution would imply support for Turkish aggression and a lack of concern about an expected release of imprisoned ISIS terrorists.
It is unclear if the U.S. Senate would vote on a similar measure. But both chambers could soon address the matter through economic sanctions against Turkey.
"This is a very concerning situation we find ourselves in, and I hope we can find a way out of it," U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said.
J. Edward Moreno contributed to this story.
"U.S. House, including most Texas members, votes in disapproval of Trump's Syria actions" was first published at by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.