Van Drew Opposes President’s Withdrawal From Syria

By Rick Mellerup | Oct 09, 2019
File Photo by: Ryan Morrill

Washington, D.C. — Congressman Jeff Van Drew may be one of the mere 10 Democratic members of the House of Representatives who still haven’t offered public support for the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump, but he has expressed dismay at Trump’s decision to withdraw all American troops from Syria.

“I strongly disagree with the President’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northeastern Syria,” said Van Drew in a statement released on Tuesday. “Our Kurd allies have been instrumental in our fight against ISIS. Our allies must know America always fulfills its responsibilities. A withdrawal puts our own national security at risk as well as our European allies and Israel, and increases the chances of an ISIS resurgence. I urge the President to exert American leadership and stand firm with our Kurd allies and the multinational coalition to destroy ISIS.”

Van Drew may worry that supporting an impeachment inquiry may hurt him in a district that voted for Trump in 2016. But he had political cover in disagreeing with Trump’s order to withdraw American troops from Syria, considering many other Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Lindsey Graham, a frequent ally and golfing partner of the president, have also condemned the withdrawal. Van Drew has also been busy of late introducing legislation, perhaps in an effort to declaw Republican condemnation of Democrats as being the “do nothing party,” attempting to get things done even as Washington is dominated by impeachment discussions.

On Oct. 3, Van Drew joined with Florida Republican Ted S. Yoho to introduce two bipartisan bills to help in the battle against human trafficking. The first, H.R. 4581, is officially titled the Collecting Official Measurements and Baselines to Assess Trafficking (COMBAT) Act. It would require the United States to determine the parameters for quantifying trafficking in people and require a comprehensive study on domestic human trafficking.

The second, H.R. 4580, is called the Prevent Trafficking in Our Schools Act. It would create a pilot program led by the departments of Homeland Security and Education to train educators on how to identify signs of trafficking in their schools. It would also bring awareness to human trafficking and techniques to combat this crime and ensure the community remains safe from potential traffickers.

“Human trafficking is modern day slavery and we should do everything we can to root out this evil,” said Van Drew after the bills’ introduction. “We can not attack what we do not know and that’s why I’m proud to introduce these common-sense bills with Congressman Yoho. These vital pieces of legislation would give us a better picture of the scale and magnitude of this horrendous crime and educate teachers on how to spot signs of trafficking and tools to respond accordingly.”

It makes sense that Yoho and Van Drew would join hands on this matter. Florida is generally considered a hub of human trafficking; Atlantic City, which is in Van Drew’s New Jersey 2nd Congressional District along with all of Southern Ocean County save half of Stafford Township and all of Barnegat Township, has had its share of human trafficking arrests reported in the news over the past few years.

The very next day, Van Drew introduced two bills that should be near and dear to many of his constituents’ hearts, the Pay Our Coast Guard Act and the Keep the William J. Hughes Technical Center Funded for FY 2020 Act. The bills would fund the U.S. Coast Guard and the Federal Aviation Administration through 2020. The bills were a response to the ramifications that South Jersey families incurred when the government shut down at the end of 2018 as a result of a battle between President Trump and the Democratic House of Representatives, and amid fear of another shutdown when federal funding expires next month. Coast Guard Training Center Cape May (along with other Coast Guard stations in the 2nd District) and the Hughes Technical Center are major cogs in South Jersey’s economic machine. Coasties and FAA employees didn’t receive paychecks during the shutdown.

The bills, said Van Drew, “not only ensure the safety of our skies and allows the brave men and women in the Coast Guard to continue paying their bills, but it also prevents the mass economic effect that the shutdown had on the South Jersey community at large, ranging from contractors, to the food industry, to fishermen. South Jersey saw a tremendous outpouring of support during the last shutdown, from food banks to financial assistance, but the bottom line is that this should not be necessary. Shutdowns should not happen, especially at the expense of the American people. I will do everything necessary to prevent this from happening again. We cannot afford to play chicken with our safety or our financial security.”

— Rick Mellerup

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