As a punitive measure for Germany, US President Trump had announced that around a third of American soldiers would be withdrawn. Congress wants to put obstacles in the way of the elected president.
The US Congress wants to block the massive withdrawal of American soldiers from Germany planned by incumbent President Donald Trump for the time being. This emerges from the draft bill for the US defense budget, which Democrats and Republicans agreed in both chambers in Congress on Thursday (local time). There it says that the US Secretary of Defense must state in a report to Congress whether such a withdrawal would be in the national interest of the US. At the earliest 120 days later, the number of US soldiers stationed in the Federal Republic may fall below the limit of 34,500.
Members of the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives and the Trump Republican-dominated Senate agreed on Thursday on the 4,500-page defense budget package for the coming year. After being passed by the two houses of Congress in Congress, Trump must sign the law for it to come into effect.
With regard to the planned withdrawal from Germany, the draft states on page 1428 that the Congress continues to assess Germany as a strong NATO partner. The presence of “approximately 34,500 members of the US armed forces stationed in Germany” serves as an important deterrent for military aggression and expansionist efforts by Russia in Europe. The US troops in Germany are also of central importance for supporting the US operations in the Middle East, Africa and Afghanistan.
Retaliation for allegedly insufficient defense spending
Trump had announced the withdrawal of some of the US soldiers in Germany in mid-June and justified the step with what he saw as Germany’s defense spending that was too low. A total of around 12,000 soldiers were to be withdrawn, i.e. around a third of the total number of soldiers stationed in the Federal Republic.
A few weeks after Trump’s announcement, the now dismissed US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper made it clear that the plans should be implemented “as quickly as possible”. So far, nothing has happened in this regard. Locations in Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria and Rhineland-Palatinate would be particularly affected.
Trump has threatened to block the defense budget with a veto – but that has nothing to do with the debate about the withdrawal of US troops from Germany, but with a dispute over the regulation of online platforms. In the summer, Trump also threatened to veto the legislative package in the dispute over a possible renaming of military bases.
A presidential veto can be overruled with a two-thirds majority in the House of Representatives and Senate. The Defense Budget (NDAA) package is one of a series of bills that Congress intends to pass before the end of the year. The defense budget was passed with bipartisan support for 59 consecutive years.
Republican Trump lost the presidential election on November 3rd to Democrat Joe Biden. Trump has so far refused to admit defeat.