Merkley demands congressional vote on Afghan postwar force

Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyOvernight Defense — Presented by Boeing — House passes resolution rebuking Trump over Syria | Sparks fly at White House meeting on Syria | Dems say Trump called Pelosi a 'third-rate politician' | Trump, Graham trade jabs Senate confirms Trump's Air Force secretary pick Democratic senators condemn Trump for calling on China to investigate Bidens 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 WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenUS ban on China tech giant faces uncertainty a month out Hillicon Valley: GOP lawmakers offer election security measure | FTC Dem worries government is 'captured' by Big Tech | Lawmakers condemn Apple over Hong Kong censorship Lawmakers condemn Apple, Activision Blizzard over censorship of Hong Kong protesters MORE, along with Sens. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulTurkey sanctions face possible wall in GOP Senate Trump-Graham relationship tested by week of public sparring Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Pence says Turkey agrees to ceasefire | Senators vow to move forward with Turkey sanctions | Mulvaney walks back comments tying Ukraine aid to 2016 probe MORE (R-Ky.), Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinOvernight Energy: Perry to step down as Energy secretary | Future of big-game hunting council up in the air | Dems lose vote against EPA power plant rule Senate Dems lose forced vote against EPA power plant rule Schumer seeks focus on health care amid impeachment fever MORE (D-W.Va.), Tom HarkinThomas (Tom) Richard HarkinWisconsin lawmaker gets buzz-cut after vowing not to cut hair until sign language bill passed Democratic debates kick off Iowa summer sprint Key endorsements: A who's who in early states MORE (D-Iowa) and Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeZuckerberg launches public defense of Facebook as attacks mount Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Pence says Turkey agrees to ceasefire | Senators vow to move forward with Turkey sanctions | Mulvaney walks back comments tying Ukraine aid to 2016 probe On The Money: Senate fails to override Trump veto over border emergency | Trump resort to host G-7 next year | Senators to push Turkey sanctions despite ceasefire | McConnell tees up funding votes 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 Forbes KerryOvernight Energy: Farmers say EPA reneged on ethanol deal | EPA scrubs senators' quotes from controversial ethanol announcement | Perry unsure if he'll comply with subpoena | John Kerry criticizes lack of climate talk at debate John Kerry calls out lack of climate questions at debate Democrats' debate divisions open the race to new (or old) faces 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."