U.S. Rep. Tom Reed said Thursday he refused to support the House bill condemning President’s Trump’s decision to remove troops from Northern Syria because he is opposed to “boots on the ground” there.
In his weekly press call with reporters, the Corning Republican said his opposition to U.S. involvement in Syria dates back to the President Obama administration.
Reed was among 60 House Republicans to oppose the resolution Wednesday. The 364-60 vote included 129 Republicans siding with Democrats.
He accused Democratic and Republican colleagues alike with “political cowardice” for not doing their job and voting whether U.S. troops can be sent to Mideast trouble spots by the president without a vote from Congress.
“I’m calling out both sides on that,” Reed said. “It’s time for Congress to reclaim its authority. ... I see no legal basis for those troops to be there. What I see here is the president honoring his pledge to bring the troops home.”
Asked whether he was concerned over reports that U.S. troops in Syria, who had fought with the Kurds against ISIS, were ashamed over abandoning them to attack by Turkey, Reed said it was a disappointment.
But he insisted, “first and foremost it was about making U.S. men and women (troops) safe.”
There were reports the troops withdrawn from Syria were deployed to Saudi Arabia, which Reed described as a non-hostile region of the Mideast.
Reed said that after meeting with the Turkish president, Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reported a cease fire involving Turkish troops and the Kurds in northern Syria. That includes containing ISIS prisoners that the Kurds had been guarding.
“Today’s decision by the stakeholders demonstrates what we were able to do, bring a peaceful resolution to the matter,” Reed said.
Commenting on another issue in the news — political contributions from several associates of Rudolph Guliani, the president’s personal attorney — Reed said he had no idea whether his campaign received any contributions from the individuals.
Reed said he does not pay attention to contributions to his campaign, but does not believe any of the individuals associated with the former New York City mayor, who were indicted for campaign finance violations, donated to his campaign.
“I have no idea, off the top of my head,” Reed said. “I do not believe that is the case.” He said contributions to his and other campaigns are “all out there for the public record.”
On the presidential impeachment inquiry in the House, Reed said Democrat-controlled committees need to give Republican members the ability to subpoena evidence and call witnesses.
“I do not see a smoking-gun piece of evidence presented by Democrats that should rise to an impeachment-level offense,” Reed said.
The congressman said he thought it was a fair question about whether a former sitting vice president was involved in using his office improperly.
“To me, that’s a fair question,” Reed said, referring to Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.
Reed also offered condolences to the family of Rep. Elijah Cummings, the Baltimore Democrat and civil rights leader who died early Wednesday.
Reed, who called Cummings a friend, said, “He was someone from the other side of the aisle, a proud statesman and a classy individual we all looked up to.”