The US Senate has voted to table a bill that would have ended the war in Afghanistan and repealed the 2001 law authorizing the War on Terror, shooting down a rare attempt to wind down the longest conflict in American history.
Lawmakers voted 60-33 on Wednesday to kill legislation introduced by Senators Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) and Tom Udall (D-New Mexico) as an amendment for a broader defense spending bill. Dubbed the AFGHAN Act, the measure would have directed the Pentagon to begin an “orderly withdrawal” from Afghanistan and pay a $2,500 bonus to American soldiers.
Ahead of the vote, Senator Paul castigated the nearly 20-year-old conflict as wasteful of American lives and tax dollars, urging lawmakers to send the troops home.
“It is not sustainable to keep fighting in Afghanistan generation after generation,” Paul said on the Senate floor, noting that some of the soldiers taking part in the conflict were not even born when it was launched in 2001. “Many people have said we should end the war. Today you get to vote.”
First introduced last year, the amendment also would have repealed the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) enacted in response to the September 11 attacks, which has been invoked to justify military action around the globe. Since the US invasion of Afghanistan, the AUMF has been cited dozens of times to authorize deployments, bombings or other armed operations in at least 14 countries.
Though a deal struck between Washington and the Taliban earlier this year initiated a phased withdrawal of the roughly 12,000 US soldiers stationed in the country, some 8,600 troops still remain there. The administration has reportedly mulled removing another 4,000 by the fall, but has yet to announce a decision. While US officials, including CENTCOM commander Frank McKenzie, say the Taliban has avoided attacks on coalition forces in recent months, ongoing disputes between the militant group and the Afghan government still threaten to derail the withdrawal deal.
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