Merkley demands congressional vote on Afghan postwar force

Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleyOvernight Regulation: Labor groups fear rollback of Obama worker protection rule | Trump regs czar advances in Senate | New FCC enforcement chief Dems urge Sessions to reject AT&T-Time Warner merger Dems step up attacks on GOP ObamaCare bill MORE (D-Ore.) is demanding President Obama seek congressional approval for any postwar U.S. force in Afghanistan after the White House-mandated 2014 withdrawal deadline. 

"Should the President determine the necessity to maintain [American] troops in Afghanistan" after 2014, "any such presence and missions should be authorized by a separate vote of Congress," according legislation proposed by Merkley on Wednesday. 

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The language is part of an amendment filed by the Oregon Democrat to the fiscal year 2014 defense spending bill. 

Fellow Oregon Democrat Sen. Ron WydenRon WydenCommerce secretary spoiled Treasury secretary’s secret wedding: report Dems push for more action on power grid cybersecurity Senate bill would repeal most ObamaCare taxes, delay Cadillac tax MORE, along with Sens. Rand PaulRand PaulTrump tells Democrats they need ‘courage’ to fix ObamaCare Fifth GOP senator announces opposition to healthcare bill The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (R-Ky.), Joe ManchinJoe ManchinZinke hits Dems for delaying Interior nominees Manchin faces primary challenge from the left Sessions sequel falls flat following Comey drama MORE (D-W.Va.), Tom HarkinTom HarkinDistance education: Tumultuous today and yesterday Grassley challenger no stranger to defying odds Clinton ally stands between Sanders and chairmanship dream MORE (D-Iowa) and Mike LeeMike LeeTrump tells Democrats they need ‘courage’ to fix ObamaCare Fifth GOP senator announces opposition to healthcare bill The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (R-Utah) are all co-sponsors of the Merkley amendment. 

Merkley's amendment, however, will not affect potential advise and assist operations conducted with the Afghan military by that U.S. postwar force, according to the legislation. 

The amendment will also not impede White House or Pentagon authority to carry out counterterrorism operations against Taliban, al Qaeda and other militant extremist groups fighting in the country. 

Timing of the amendment comes as Washington and Kabul continue to wrangle over the final language of a postwar deal. 

On Tuesday, Secretary of State John KerryJohn KerryFrustrated Dems say Obama botched Russia response Budowsky: Dems madder than hell Tillerson: 'My view didn’t change' on Paris climate agreement MORE admitted "mistakes" were made in postwar talks between Washington and Kabul, vowing to grant Afghan leaders more leeway in the final agreement. 

That change is only the latest effort by American negotiators to keep U.S-Afghan postwar negotiations from falling apart, less than a year before all American combat troops are scheduled to withdraw from the country. 

On Monday, a defense official told The Hill that a key meeting of top Afghan leaders on the Obama administration's postwar strategy for the country is still on track, despite a recent terrorist attack in the country's capitol of Kabul. 

The location of the attack is where members of the Loya Jirga, an assembly of the country's most powerful tribal leaders, are scheduled to meet later this week to review the U.S. postwar plan. 

That meeting to review the American strategy, known as a Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA), remains on schedule despite the attack, according to the defense official.

Recent news reports earlier in the week stated a White House apology would be a part of a U.S-Afghan postwar deal to allow American forces to remain in the country after 2014. 

National Security Adviser Susan Rice on Wednesday flatly denied reports that President Obama is drafting an apology for the U.S. war in Afghanistan, as a way to lock in a postwar deal in the country. 

"No such letter has been drafted or delivered. There is not a need for the United States to apologize to Afghanistan," Rice said during an interview with CNN.

"We have sacrificed and supported [Afghanistan] in their democratic progress and in tackling the insurgents and al Qaeda. So that [apology] is not on the table."