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Mitt Romney leading effort to block Trump withdrawal of U.S. troops from Germany

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Sen. Mitt Romney

Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — Sen. Mitt Romney is leading a bipartisan effort to stop President Donald Trump from withdrawing U.S. troops from Germany.

The Utah Republican, along with two GOP and three Democratic colleagues, proposed an amendment to the defense bill that would limit the use of funds to reduce the number of active-duty service members in the European country. 

“The withdrawal of U.S. troops from Germany would be a gift to Russia, and that’s the last thing we should be doing,” Romney said. 

Trump last month announced he planned to reduce the U.S. troops in Germany from 34,500 to 25,000. He has explained the move as a response to Germany not meeting NATO’s goal of spending at least 2% of gross domestic product on defense.

Romney said the withdrawal would undermine the relationship with NATO and create serious logistical challenges and prevent the military from performing routine readiness exercises.

“We cannot abandon our commitment to our allies, and instead must strengthen our alliances in order to rein in the world’s bad actors and promote the values of freedom and democracy around the world,” he said.

Trump approved a Pentagon plan to carry out the withdrawal after a briefing on options by Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley on Tuesday.

“The proposal that was approved not only meets the president’s directive, it will also enhance Russian deterrence, strengthen NATO, reassure allies, improve U.S. strategic flexibility and U.S. European Command’s operational flexibility, and take care of our service members and their families,” chief Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement.

The proposed amendment would prevent funds from being used to reduce the number of troops serving in Germany until the Defense Department submits a report to Congress that a reduction is in the national security interest of the United States. Also, that a withdrawal would not undermine the security of U.S. allies or the deterrence and defense posture of NATO.

Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., called the troop reduction a “reckless” decision.

“Withdrawing nearly 10,000 troops from Germany, without consulting German leadership or our other European allies does not make America any safer,” he said. “In times of domestic and international turmoil, our alliances keep us safer, healthier and more prosperous. A hasty arbitrary withdrawal only emboldens our adversaries.”

In addition to Romney and Coons, sponsors of the measure are Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Tim Kaine, D-Va., and Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H.

On Wednesday, the House Armed Services Committee approved a bipartisan amendment seeking to limit Trump’s ability to withdraw troops from Germany.