The Hill: House lawmakers look to reassure Australia after Mattis resignation
A bipartisan group of House lawmakers is reaching out to Australia to reassure the U.S. ally following the announced resignation of Defense Secretary James Mattis.
In a letter spearheaded by Reps. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) and Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) and sent by Australian Ambassador Joe Hockey, members of the Congressional Friends of Australia Caucus stressed the importance of the alliance between the countries after Mattis said he would leave the Trump administration.
“We therefore share many Australians' concerns about Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis's recent announcement that he will step down from his position in February 2019,” they wrote in Friday's letter obtained by The Hill. “Secretary Mattis has been a stalwart proponent of American leadership and a free and open Indo-Pacific, both which have benefitted the United States and Australia for decades. He has also been an advocate for maintaining and strengthening America's alliances and partnerships around the world, including with Australia.”
Mattis's departure date has since been moved up to Jan. 1.
The congressional group cited Mattis’s resignation letter, which stated the United States, while an “indispensable nation in the free world,” can’t protect its interests without alliances with countries with common goals and values.
“[W]e are writing to strongly reaffirm our agreement with Secretary Mattis that it is in the United States’ enduring interest to maintain and strengthen our alliances, built of shared values and shared interests, particularly in the case of our special relationship with Australia,” the lawmakers wrote. “Moving forward, we want to extend our deep and sincere commitment to maintain America's special bond and alliance with your country.”
In addition to Courtney and Gallagher, the letter was signed by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) and ranking member Adam Smith (D-Wash.), as well as Reps. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), John Larson (D-Conn.), Pete King (R-N.Y.), Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.), Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio), Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), Paul Cook (R-Calif.), Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.), Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.), John Shimkus (R-Ill.), Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) Hank Johnson Jr. (D-Ga.), Jim Banks (R-Ind.), Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) and Donald Norcross (D-N.J.).
Mattis announced his resignation on Thursday after the White House announced it planned to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria — a move Mattis strongly opposed.