Two Democratic senators wrote President Obama on Wednesday requesting that future agreements between the U.S. and Afghan governments be subject to Senate approval.
Sens. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), a staunch critic of the Afghan war, and Jim Webb (D-Va.), a former Republican Secretary of the Navy, requested that any bilateral agreement between the U.S. and Afghanistan with regard to “our long-term relationship and military operations in that country” be approved by the Senate in the form of a treaty.
”We do not believe that a long-term, open-ended presence of U.S. military forces in Afghanistan serves our national interest,” they wrote. “Most importantly, we believe that any consideration of such a prospect must be taken with the full advice and consent of the Senate.”
If such an agreement were put into the form of a treaty, two-thirds of the Senate would have approve it to have it go into effect.
The senators’ letter came one day after the House signed off on a $59 billion supplemental spending bill that included $33 billion in additional funding for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, sending it to Obama for his signature.
Skepticism of the Afghanistan war has heightened among some lawmakers since the release of 92,000 secret government documents by the organization WikiLeaks.
The documents say that Pakistani intelligence agents have assisted Islamic extremists operating in Afghanistan despite the fact their government receives anti-terror aid from the United States.
The doubts have created a divide most noticeably among Democrats. On Tuesday, 102 House Democrats voted against war funding, as opposed to 32 who voted against it last year.
Webb and Feingold noted that, as a senator, Obama supported legislation during the Bush administration that would have applied similar congressional approval to agreements between the U.S. and Iraq.
They wrote that the “failure to submit the [majority security agreement with Iraq] as a treaty ... entailed significant risks implicating our nation as a whole including operational constraints on one hand and a failure to specify an end-point for our security commitments on the other.”
Feingold voted against the supplemental funding for the troops, arguing that a hard deadline of troop withdrawal is needed.
Read the full letter here.