Senators: Congress Should Vote on Keeping Troops in Afghanistan Past 2014

Washington, DC – Today, Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Mike Lee (R-UT), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Rand Paul (R-KY), Jon Tester (D-MT), and Mark Begich (D-AK) introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) urging Congressional approval as a condition for any American troop presence in Afghanistan past 2014.  The Administration is reportedly negotiating an agreement that could keep as many as 10,000 American troops in Afghanistan for another ten years.

“It is long past time to end the longest war in American history and bring our sons and daughters home,” Senator Merkley said. “The American people deserve to weigh in and Congress should vote before we decide to commit massive resources and thousands of troops to another decade in Afghanistan. These are resources that could be used here at home creating jobs, improving education, and cutting the deficit.” 

“With our military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, it is vital for the elected representatives of the American people to approve or disapprove of further involvement past the 2014 timeline,” Senator Lee said. “This amendment protects the democratic rights of the American people to shape our foreign and military policy.” 

 “When Congress authorized the war in Afghanistan it was not intended to last forever,” Senator Wyden said. “It has now become the longest war in American history.  If the president believes there are compelling national security reasons to require a U.S. military presence in Afghanistan after 2014 he should come to Congress and make that case.”

 “After spending over a decade at war in Afghanistan, it is time to transition our troops home,” Senator Paul said. “This bipartisan amendment reinforces the fact that the president needs to consult the American people and their representatives in Congress before increasing our troop involvement in Afghanistan.”

 “After over a decade of war and thousands of American casualties, we need to focus on supporting our veterans and doing some nation-building here at home,” Senator Tester said.  “This amendment makes sure Congress and the American people have a say when it comes to our national priorities.”

“After years of war in which thousands of soldiers lost their lives and billions of dollars have been spent, Americans have the right to expect checks and balances should the President deviate from the current plan to end combat operations in Afghanistan by the end of 2014.” said Sen. Begich.  “This amendment ensures that the President can’t make unilateral decisions that commit our country to another decade of conflict in Afghanistan.”

After 12 years and nearly $600 billion spent, the Administration has declared that the war in Afghanistan will be wound down by December 31, 2014. However, the Administration is also negotiating an agreement with the Government of Afghanistan that would set guidelines for U.S. troops to remain in training, support, and counter-terrorism roles through at least 2024.  

In June, the House of Representatives approved a similar amendment to the NDAA stating that it is the Sense of Congress that if the President determines that it is necessary to maintain U.S. troops in Afghanistan after 2014, any such presence and missions should be authorized by Congress.  The House amendment passed by a robust, bipartisan 305-121 margin.