Washington, DC – Today, the U.S Senate passed a bipartisan amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act led by Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Rand Paul (R-KY) that would bring an end to America’s longest war and get our troops home from Afghanistan. The amendment calls on the Administration to end regular combat operations at the earliest date consistent with a safe and orderly draw down of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

“It is time to bring our sons and daughters home from Afghanistan and end the longest war in American history,” said Merkley. “We have accomplished our initial missions of destroying al-Qaida training camps in Afghanistan and hunting down those responsible for 9/11. It is time to bring our troops home and start investing in our own nation building.”

“Our men and women in uniform have served America with honor in Afghanistan, and we must honor them by ending this long-running war and bringing them home as soon as possible,” Paul said. 

The amendment supports the President’s commitment to steadily draw down U.S. troop levels, and to hand over lead security responsibility to the government of Afghanistan by mid-summer 2013.  It also calls on the President to accelerate that timeline and end all regular combat operations and draw down troop levels as soon as can be accomplished in a safe and orderly manner.  

In addition, the amendment explicitly clarifies that it does not limit the President’s authority to attack al-Qaida forces, to authorize our troops to defend themselves if threatened, to support the training of Afghan security forces, or to share intelligence with our allies operating in Afghanistan and Pakistan. 

Merkley and Paul were joined by Senators Max Baucus (D-MT), Mark Begich (D-AK), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ben Cardin (D- MD), Kent Conrad (D-ND), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Al Franken (D-MN), Kristin Gillibrand (D-NY), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Mike Lee (R-UT), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).