PONTIAC — Turkey's assault on Kurds in Syria creates “a dangerous moment,” and U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger said President Donald Trump's decision to pull U.S. troops back from border positions in Syria with their Kurdish allies was one of his worst moves.
The troop withdrawal drew harsh criticism from both sides of the aisle.
However, as commander in chief, Trump has the authority to decide troop movements, and there isn't a lot Congress can do about it, said Kinzinger, a Republican from Channahon.
There is an appropriations bill coming up which Congress can use to attempt to influence the president, but Kinzinger, who was in Pontiac to visit a high school class, said he didn't think that would have much effect.
A measure is moving through Congress to impose sanctions on Turkey for its attacks in Syria against the Kurds, who have been allies of the United States in fighting Islamic State terrorists, noted Kinzinger.
The Kurds have been holding about 10,000 Islamic State prisoners, and Kinzinger expressed concern that they could go free and resume terrorist activities. Even if they don't, the situation is a psychological boost for them, he said.
Kinzinger has been a frequent critic of Trump's foreign policy actions and the tone of the president's rhetoric, but his votes follow Trump on most measures.
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Democrat Dani Brzozowski, the LaSalle County Democratic chairwoman who is running against Kinzinger, has accused him of changing his message to fit his audiences.
Kinzinger denied his actions reflect any inconsistency.
“I call balls and strikes,” said Kinzinger, criticizing Trump when he disagrees and supporting him when they agree.
If he is reelected, Kinzinger could face an even bigger challenge in 2022 after districts are redrawn following the 2020 census. Illinois is expected to lose at least one and possibly two seats.
Kinzinger said, “I'm the last Republican north of Bloomington,” so he expects to be targeted.
After the 2010 census, the borders of Kinzinger's district were drastically altered after his first term in Congress. He ran against fellow Republican Don Manzullo, a 10-term congressman, and won.
Asked if he expects a similar situation after the 2020 census, Kinzinger said he is planning for it “but I'm not losing any sleep.”