Washington (AP) – For the time being, Congress wants to block the massive withdrawal of US soldiers from Germany planned by incumbent President Donald Trump.
In a draft U.S. defense budget bill agreed by Democrats and Republicans in both chambers of Congress, the U.S. Secretary of Defense must report to Congress whether such a withdrawal would be in the U.S. national interest. . At the earliest 120 days later, the number of US soldiers stationed in the Federal Republic could fall below the 34,500 limit.
Members of the Democratically-controlled House of Representatives and Senate, which is dominated by Trump’s Republicans, agreed on Thursday’s 4,500-page defense budget package for the coming year. After being passed in Congress by the two houses of Congress, Trump must sign the bill for it to take effect.
Regarding the planned withdrawal from Germany, the draft on page 1428 states that Congress continues to assess Germany as a strong NATO partner. The presence of the “approximately 34,500 members of the US armed forces stationed in Germany” serves as a major deterrent to Russia’s military aggression and expansionist efforts in Europe. US forces in Germany are also critical in supporting US operations in the Middle East, Africa and Afghanistan.
Trump had announced the withdrawal of some of the US soldiers in Germany in mid-June, justifying the move with what he saw as German defense spending being too low. In total, about 12,000 soldiers would be withdrawn, which is about one third of the total number of soldiers stationed in the Federal Republic.
A few weeks after Trump’s announcement, the now-fired US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper made it clear that the plans needed to be executed “as soon as possible.” Nothing has happened in this regard so far. Locations in Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria and Rhineland-Palatinate would be particularly affected.
Trump has threatened to block the defense budget with a right of 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 by a two-thirds majority in the House and Senate. The Defense Budget (NDAA) package is part of a series of bills that Congress plans to pass before the end of the year. The defense budget was passed with bipartisan support for 59 consecutive years.
Republican Trump lost the Nov. 3 presidential election to Democrat Joe Biden. Trump has so far refused to admit defeat.