Donald Trump has long seen support from his Republican allies in Congress as a pillar of his entire presidency. So long as the GOP is united, and so long as Republican lawmakers are willing to stand behind him, Trump believes his position is strong.
And for the last 1,000 days, the president has had reason to be pleased with his party’s fealty. There have been some exceptions, but they’ve largely been limited to a modest number of senators.
Yesterday, however, was something altogether new.
The House on Wednesday voted overwhelmingly to condemn President Donald Trump’s withdrawal of American forces from northern Syria.
Despite stark divisions over Democrats’ Trump impeachment inquiry, Democrats and Republicans banded together and approved a nonbinding resolution by 354-60 vote.
The resolution states Congress’ opposition to the troop pullback and says Turkey should cease its military action in Syria. And the measure says the White House should present a plan for an “enduring defeat” of the Islamic State group.
In all, 192 House Republicans voted on the resolution, and 129 of them sided with Democrats against the White House’s position. The president has convinced himself that his policy in Syria was “strategically brilliant,” but it appears even GOP lawmakers know better.
Trump has seen votes go against him on Capitol Hill, but he’s never seen such a lopsided defeat in the House.
There were no hysterical presidential tweets on the vote – at least not yet – but there’s reason to believe yesterday’s outcome on the House floor contributed to Trump’s meltdown during a meeting with congressional leaders.
“I think that vote, the size of the vote – more than 2 to 1 of the Republicans voted to oppose what the president did – it probably got to the president, because he was shaken up by it,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters. “That’s why we couldn’t continue in the meeting because he was just not relating to the reality of it.”
It’s worth emphasizing that yesterday’s House vote was on a non-binding resolution: it was a largely symbolic measure, expressing an opinion of the House majority.
But in this case, that bipartisan opinion was that Trump has made a horrible foreign policy mistake.