Merkley demands congressional vote on Afghan postwar force

Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleySenate easily approves waiver for Trump's Pentagon chief Dem senator: 'Very good chance’ we save ObamaCare Live coverage: Tillerson's hearing for State 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 WydenWhy Trump should abolish the White House faith office Schumer puts GOP on notice over ObamaCare repeal Lawmakers condemn Trump for attack on John Lewis MORE, along with Sens. Rand PaulRand PaulSanders, Dems defend ObamaCare at Michigan rally Paul: Medicaid expansion 'the big question' Rand Paul: ObamaCare replacement goal is to insure most people at lowest cost MORE (R-Ky.), Joe ManchinJoe ManchinWarren blasts Trump for John Lewis criticism Dems prepare to face off with Trump's pick to lead EPA Manchin: Republicans should learn from Dems' ObamaCare mistakes MORE (D-W.Va.), Tom HarkinTom HarkinGrassley challenger no stranger to defying odds Clinton ally stands between Sanders and chairmanship dream Do candidates care about our health or just how much it costs? MORE (D-Iowa) and Mike LeeMike LeeRight renews push for term limits as Trump takes power Conservatives press Trump on Supreme Court pick Overnight Finance: Ethics chief blasts Trump business plan | Senate begins late-night marathon vote | Lawmakers look to rein in Trump on trade 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 KerryKerry: Trump comments on German chancellor ‘inappropriate’ Palestinian leader: Moving Israel embassy could jeopardize peace process UN leader willing to meet lawmakers amid push to cut funding 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."