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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 PaulOvernight Health Care: 50 million coronavirus vaccines given | Pfizer news | Biden health nominees Rand Paul criticized for questioning of transgender health nominee Haley isolated after Trump fallout 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 UdallTom UdallOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Haaland courts moderates during tense confirmation hearing | GOP's Westerman looks to take on Democrats on climate change | White House urges passage of House public lands package Udalls: Haaland criticism motivated 'by something other than her record' Senate approves waiver for Biden's Pentagon nominee 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 InhofeBiden seeks to walk fine line with Syria strike Senators given no timeline on removal of National Guard, Capitol fence Overnight Defense: New Senate Armed Services chairman talks Pentagon policy nominee, Afghanistan, more | Biden reads report on Khashoggi killing | Austin stresses vaccine safety in new video 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.