The House on Thursday voted down a War Powers Resolution introduced by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) that would have directed President Biden to remove all US troops from Somalia within one year, except those guarding the US embassy.
The resolution failed in a vote of 102-321. It received support from 52 Republicans and 50 Democrats.
While the resolution was led by Gaetz and had six Republican co-sponsors, it also received support from progressive Democrats. During the debate on the floor, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) argued in favor of the resolution.
“Members of Progressive Caucus leadership will vote for the Somalia war powers resolution,” a congressional staffer told The Intercept ahead of the vote.
US operations in Somalia have escalated since President Biden ordered the deployment of up to 500 troops to the country last year, although Gaetz said there are 900 US troops there. The US-backed Mogadishu-based government also launched an offensive against al-Shabaab last year, leading to an escalation in fighting on the ground.
While there has been an escalation of the war over the past year, there’s been a recent lull in US airstrikes. The last US strike in Somalia that was reported by US Africa Command took place in February.
“The United States has had a military presence in Somalia since 1992, but it’s been a costly and mostly fruitless endeavor. Somalia is entrenched in violence and political instability that has persisted for decades, and there seems to be no end in sight,” Gaetz said on Thursday.
“America has a responsibility to protect its citizens and defend its interests, but Somalia is not a vital national security concern. Instead of pouring more resources into a never-ending conflict, our country should prioritize its own needs and focus on issues that directly impact our neighbors. It is time to bring our troops home and let Somalia find its own path to stability,” he added.
The bill was the second War Powers Resolution led by Gaetz, who has vowed to continue introducing similar legislation to force debate on US interventions in the Middle East and Africa. He hinted on the floor that the next resolution might cover US operations in Niger.
In March, the House rejected a Syria War Powers Resolution introduced by Gaetz. The vote fell along similar lines, failing 103-321, with 56 Democrats and 47 Republicans voting in favor of the bill. It also received support from progressive Democrats and Republicans aligned with Gaetz.