After over a decade of fighting in Afghanistan, the Senate voted Thursday for an accelerated withdrawal of U.S. forces. Senate Democrats along with a dozen Republicans backed the measure that would eliminate the possibility of a prolonged war past 2014:
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.
The chief sponsor of the measure calling for an accelerated withdrawal, Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., joined The Rachel Maddow Show Thursday night to talk about the Senate’s vote and the message the body is sending to the president and to Congress.
“We’re really re-enforcing the vision the president has laid out,” Merkley said of the president’s withdrawal plan, “and to have a bipartisan endorsement of the president’s vision along with calling for an acceleration of his vision is just the right message to send.”’
He added that the Senate’s vote was largely a response to the House’s language, which would leave 68,000 troops at minimum in Afghanistan for the next two years. “They’re talking about indefinite war at large numbers,” Merkeley said. “The Senate has responded tonight and said, ‘No, this war must come to an end. We have lost thousands of Americans. We have spent spent half a trillion dollars. We have spent 11 years, the ‘nation building’ is not working. Our primary missions on the training camps, our primary missions on taking those out who are responsible for 9/11 is completed. Let’s get our sons and daughters home.’”
Earlier this month, House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi told Rachel Maddow that she hoped the U.S. would withdraw troops from Afghanistan ahead of the 2014 target.
Thursday’s resolution comes a year after the Senate last voted to accelerate withdrawal—a failed measure last year that was dismissed by many Senate Republicans, including John McCain.