Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) expects to receive very little Democrat support when his resolution on withdrawing American troops from Syria comes up for a vote on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. ET, he told Breitbart News in an exclusive interview.
“I will be searching for Democrat anti-war doves the way I search for the endangered Florida Panther in the Everglades. I really hope to find them but I also know that I may not,” he told Breitbart News on Tuesday.
Gaetz said he begged Democrats to join him in co-sponsoring the resolution but could not find one.
“There is a group-think that besets the Congress on matters of foreign affairs. Far too many get elected to Congress and relish in their role as a world leader and [want] the United States involved in every corner and crevice of the globe,” he said. “Throughout my life, I’ve seen that at times we are not the vaccines — we’re the chaos. We are the virus.”
He said there will be 20 minutes of debate allotted to him, 20 minutes allotted to Democrats, and 20 minutes allotted to Republican “neoconservatives.”
“It will be a three-way debate on Syria,” he said.
Gaetz said he does, however, expect support from some Republicans — “great champions for the America First foreign policy” such as Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA).
Gaetz’s resolution would withdraw the approximately 900 U.S. forces who are in Syria from when the Obama administration sent them there in 2015 to fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. At the time, ISIS was on the cusp of seizing Baghdad.
The Obama administration used as a justification for the Syria intervention the same authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) that was used to invade Afghanistan in 2001.
However, the war ended in 2019, after the Trump administration successfully retook all territory from the group. Former President Donald Trump called for all U.S. troops to come home, but the Pentagon and Congress resisted those calls, and approximately 900 forces remain there today.
Last month, four U.S. service members and a military working dog were injured on a military raid with partner forces targeting an alleged senior ISIS leader.
In fact, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley recently traveled to Syria, where he argued the mission was worth the risk.
“We’ve been there for eight years. We have no discernible focus or objective beyond engaging in what looks a lot like supercharged law enforcement raids of ISIS fighters, who likely would face persistent pressure from Syrian President Bashar Assad and Turkey and Kurds in the absence of our physical presence,” Gaetz argued.
The United States Constitution gives Congress the sole power to declare war, but Congress has never authorized the United States military presence in Syria.
“It seems ridiculous that people are utilizing the 2001 AUMF with a straight face to justify a war fought in part by Americans who were not born in 2001 when the AUMF was passed,” Gaetz said.
Gaetz said he may propose similar resolutions for the U.S. troop presence in places like Niger, the Congo, and Yemen.
He credits House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (CA) for bringing his resolution for a vote, noting that leadership in the past would not do so unless it had a chance of passing.
“In most cases, the majority only wants to schedule bills for the floor that are going to pass. My resolution has no such assurance. And the fact that we’re actually able to use the rules of the House as they were intended to address serious matters, like whether or not 900 Americans should be wandering around a Syrian civil war is progress,” he said.
He said former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi used the excuse of COVID to block consideration of resolutions regarding war powers.
“And it is to Kevin McCarthy’s great credit that he isn’t playing those kinds of games with our membership,” he said.