WASHINGTON – In light of Donald Trump’s comments that he is considering unilaterally withdrawing the nearly 30,000 U.S. troops who are stationed in South Korea, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) introduced an amendment to the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2019 that would help prevent the president from making a rash decision about troop reductions on the Korean Peninsula that would harm our national security. The senators’ amendment would prohibit President Trump from withdrawing U.S. forces from South Korea unless the U.S. Secretary of Defense certifies it is in our national security interest and would not significantly undermine the security of our allies in the region.

“As President Trump’s actions cause us to grow more and more isolated in the world, Congress needs to show our allies that the United States won’t throw them to the wolves,” said Murphy. “After a week spent humiliating our closest friends and heaping praise on Kim Jong-Un, the president is already declaring that North Korea is no longer a threat. That is an Earth-shattering claim based only on a handshake agreement and a promise – a weaker promise than they’ve made and broken numerous times already. I’m freaked out that the president will order troops out of South Korea only for North Korea to, once again, break their word. I’m all for bringing troops home when North Korea no longer poses an existential threat to our friends, but that day is a long time from now – and Congress needs to have a say.” 

“U.S. troops are not bargaining chips to be offered up in an off-handed manner. The Kim regime is as dangerous today as they were six months ago and they have done nothing to demonstrate that the threat they pose has lessened to where we should consider reducing our forces like Donald Trump has suggested. Any discussion of withdrawing our forces from the Korean Peninsula must be tied to concrete and verifiable changes in the DPRK’s behavior as well as to changing security dynamics on the peninsula and throughout in the region, and it must be done in close consultation with our allies,” said Duckworth. “Unilaterally ending our military’s involvement on the Korean Peninsula would hand Kim Jong Un a significant victory and put our allies in the region at risk.”

Murphy released a statement on Tuesday following President Trump’s meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Murphy also introduced an amendment to the NDAA that would prohibit President Trump from starting a preemptive war against North Korea, absent an imminent threat or without express authorization from Congress. Murphy introduced similar legislation prohibiting funds from being used for kinetic military operations in North Korea without congressional approval.