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Senate rejects Paul proposal on withdrawing troops from Afghanistan

Senate rejects Paul proposal on withdrawing troops from Afghanistan
© Greg Nash

The Senate on Wednesday rejected an attempt by Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulLoeffler isolating after possible COVID-19 infection Rick Scott tests positive for coronavirus Overnight Defense: Formal negotiations inch forward on defense bill with Confederate base name language | Senators look to block B UAE arms sales | Trump administration imposes Iran sanctions over human rights abuses MORE (R-Ky.) to include a proposal on withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan in a mammoth defense policy bill. 

Senators voted 60-33 to table Paul's amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, effectively pigeonholing it. 

The proposal, which was also sponsored by Sen. Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallFive House Democrats who could join Biden Cabinet Overnight Energy: Biden names John Kerry as 'climate czar' | GM reverses on Trump, exits suit challenging California's tougher emissions standards | United Nations agency says greenhouse gas emissions accumulating despite lockdown decline GSA transition delay 'poses serious risk' to Native Americans, Udall says MORE (D-N.M.), would remove troops from Afghanistan within a year and give them a $2,500 bonus. It would also repeal the 2001 authorization for the use of military force once U.S. troops have left the country. 

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"Our amendment will finally and completely end the war in Afghanistan. ... It is not sustainable to keep fighting in Afghanistan generation after generation," Paul said. 

Udall added that their proposed amendment was "the responsible way" to end this war.

If the amendment had been included in the bill, it would have needed to survive a House-Senate conference committee, where the two chambers will work out the differences in their competing versions of the legislation.

But Sen. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeHouse Democrats back slower timeline for changing Confederate base names Barrasso to seek top spot on Energy and Natural Resources Committee Overnight Defense: Trump orders troop drawdown in Afghanistan and Iraq | Key Republicans call Trump plan a 'mistake' MORE (R-Okla.) urged senators to vote to set aside the amendment, saying that the Paul-Udall amendment wasn't the "best way" to end the war in Afghanistan.

"The amendment directs a calendar-based withdrawal from Afghanistan rather than a conditions-based. ... It undermines peace negotiations in the Trump administration's Afghan strategy," Inhofe said.

The Trump administration signed an agreement with the Taliban in February that would reduce U.S. troops to 8,600 by mid-July. The Taliban has refrained from attacking U.S. forces since the deal’s signing but has stepped up attacks on Afghan forces in the ensuing months. 

There's also been a raise in targeted killings as the peace talks have stalled, The New York Times reported earlier this week.