Secretary of Defense Mark Esper. Photo: MICHAEL REYNOLDS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. will bring about 6,400 troops home from Germany and move about 5,400 more to other countries in Europe, Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced Tuesday.

Why it matters: President Trump has expressed a desire to remove the troops in the past, accusing Germany of "delinquent" payments to NATO. But the idea has been met with some bipartisan opposition in Congress, as many lawmakers believe removing troops would encourage Russian aggression

Where it stands: The withdrawal will leave some 24,000 troops in the country. Pentagon officials have told lawmakers it will take years to complete.

  • Esper claimed the removal and rearrangement "will strengthen NATO, enhance the deterrence of Russia, and meet the other principles I set forth."

What they're saying: 22 Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee implored Trump to drop his plans to move troops out of Germany in June, arguing that it would undermine the training and readiness of U.S. and allied forces and cause "serious logistical challenges."

  • Peter Beyer, an ally to German Chancellor Merkel, said in June that the move is "completely unacceptable" and will damage U.S.-German relations.
  • Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said Wednesday that the plan is "a slap in the face at a friend and ally when we should instead be drawing closer in our mutual commitment to deter Russian and Chinese aggression. And it is a gift to Russia coming at a time when we just have learned of its support for the Taliban and reports of bounties on killing American troops."

Go deeper

Exclusive: Trump never raised Russia's Taliban bounties with Putin

President Trump has never confronted Vladimir Putin with intelligence indicating Russia paid the Taliban to kill U.S. troops, he told “Axios on HBO” in an interview on Tuesday. 

Why it matters: Democrats have seized on the issue, and Trump's reluctance to discuss it, as evidence he’s unwilling to challenge Putin even when American lives are at stake.

Biden campaign calls Trump's failure to raise Russian bounties with Putin "despicable"

Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

Joe Biden's campaign on Wednesday said it was "absolutely despicable" that President Trump failed to confront Vladimir Putin with intelligence indicating Russia paid the Taliban to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

Driving the news: The president told "Axios on HBO" that he never raised the issue with his Russian counterpart, despite speaking to Putin at least eight times since intelligence about the alleged bounties was reportedly included in the President's Daily Brief in late February.

A quandary for state unemployment agencies

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

State agencies charged with paying unemployment benefits to jobless residents have their backs against the wall as they rush to parse President Trump's executive actions on coronavirus aid.

Why it matters: States are being asked to pitch in $100 per unemployed resident, but it’s a heavy lift for cash-strapped states that are still unclear about the details and may not opt-in at all. It leaves the states and jobless residents in a state of limbo.