Merkley wins 62-33 vote on his Afghanistan troop drawdown resolution

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

In a striking 62-33 vote, the U.S. Senate voted in favor of a resolution authored by Senator Jeff Merkley that called on the President to stick to his 2014 timetable for withdrawal from Afghanistan - and accelerate it, if possible.

From the AP:

Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., its chief sponsor, argued that al Qaeda is stronger in other parts of the world and that nation-building in Afghanistan has gone off track. His measure endorsed Obama's timetable to withdraw all combat troops by the end of 2014 but pressed for a quicker pace, without specifying how that would be achieved. "It is time to end this war, end the longest war in United States history," Merkley said during Senate debate.

As Senator Merkley noted on the Rachel Maddow Show (clip below), this is the first time in the last eleven years that either the House or Senate has voted to end the war. And it's in stark contrast to the resolution passed by the House, which calls for an unlimited engagement.

If that 62-vote margin stands out for you, it should. That means that 13 Republicans voted in favor of the resolution. As Merkley noted for Maddow, it was just a few years ago that a resolution calling for a timetable - any timetable - got only 18 votes in the Senate. We've come a long way.

This evening, Senator Merkley appeared on Maddow's show to talk about his amendment:

Over at FireDogLake, David Dayen has excellent coverage - and also shares the text of the resolution itself:

It is the sense of Congress that the President should, as previously announced by the President, continue to draw down United States troop levels at a steady pace through the end of 2014; and end all regular combat operations by United States troops by not later than December 31, 2014, and take all possible steps to end such operations at the earliest date consistent with a safe and orderly draw down of United States troops in Afghanistan.

One note: Senator Wyden was not present for the vote, as he was at OHSU welcoming the newest member of the Wyden family. Congratulations to Senator and Mrs. Wyden.

Comments

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    Full disclosure: My firm built Jeff Merkley's campaign website. I speak only for myself.

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    That seems like a lot of Republican support for anything coming out of the Senate. More interesting is that the 13 votes were a mix of moderates like Lugar and ultra right tea-partiers like Rand Paul. Unlikely bedfellows...

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    We know, though it's rarely admitted publicly, that one main reason for the high suicide rate and other tragic life events among our returning vets is that the war in Afghanistan is a pointless occupation of diverse civilian populations who submissively cooperate at gunpoint during the day but frequently work to repel their invaders at night. The resulting confusion, danger, and casualties for our troops and the bloodshed they must inflict upon civilian men, women, and children with never a hope of any military "victory" drives our decent servicemen and servicewomen into despair and madness. Anything we can do to end this suffering on all sides, not to mention the enormous expense and the damage to our national security, is of great value. Good work by Merkley!

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    Everyone should applaud what Oregon's junior Senator has achieved; hopefully, President Obama will take note of not only this vote but the vote in the United Nations. Forty-one abstained and onehundred thirty-eight voted for the establishment of observer status. Nine voted against.

    Does Senator Merkley stand a chance against AIPAC? Let us all hope that he stands tough against the party ruining Israel and the middle east.

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    This resolution was the right decision, but it is a sad day for our country.

    Though I cannot speak for all Afghanistan Veterans, I can speak for myself: this outcome is bittersweet.

    We know the price of slogging forward; we know the eventual price of withdrawal upon the Afghani people.

    There is no "good" in this equation.

    Ironically, Afghanistan was a war that could have turned out differently.

    It would never have been the instant democracy rainbow "W" and his Neocons envisioned, but we could have secured a more open, tolerant civil government structure.

    But it is not to be. We turned our attention away from Afghanistan to fight a war of choice in Iraq; the promise of whatever Afghanistan could have been is buried in the sands of the Sunni Triangle.

    Merkley led the charge on something historic and necessary; it's just sad that it had to end this way.

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      Again Paul I thank you for your service. The Afghan war was cut adrift in the name of Iraq for sure and therefor the best outcome will never be realized. I view the vote taken in our Senate more as a victory for US military personnel and our nation than a victory for a single senator.

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    Thank you, Sen Merkeley for pressing forward with the issues for which your constituents care.

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    After 9/11, the Taliban government of Afghanistan offered to turn bin Laden over to a 3rd country. The USA refused the offer, instead insisting upon an invasion. And it wasn't just the executive branch that was the problem- 100% of the US Senate supported the invasion and I believe only Barbara Lee in the House opposed (practically all remaining 434 in support). This invasion & occupation should never have occurred and, also, I'll bet it won't be over in 2014.

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    Now if Merkley might actually turn his attention to something more than symbolism, like convincing his colleagues to back filibuster reform??

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    Given that my son is about to graduate from Marine boot camp in two weeks, withdrawal from Afghanistan can't come soon enough for me. I am sad for the people of Afghanistan, especially the women, but we have put enough blood and treasure into Afghanistan. Thank you, Senator Merkley.

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    The margin is actually 29 votes, but that is still quite impressive.

    And the alliance of the departing Lugar--one of former Senator Obama's foreign policy allies in regards to reducing loose nukes--and the anti-imperialist military views of Rand Paul actually makes logical sense. Luckily Richard Mordouck was defeated in the recent Indiana Senate race, ensuring that the moderate voice of Lugar won't be replaced by a Tea Party loony.

    While Merekley's victory in the Senate is something to be celebrated, as any rational, clear-headed legislation that passes the Senate is destined to die an agonizing death in the House of Boehner. I still remember how the Republicans were quick to label Afghanistan "Obama's war" in the winter/spring of 2009. I would wager that the political calculus by the GOP is that they know how unpopular this war is, but will throw any roadblock to ending it and withdrawing troops by the 2014 deadline, in hopes that a negative link to an unpopular war with Obama and the Democrats will lead to GOP mid-term gains.

    You know, typical Republican same old same old...

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      And let's not forget about protecting the profits of patrons in the military-industrial-complex who are big money contributors to Republicans (and some Dems) in Congress.

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