A small, bipartisan group of senators are seeking legislation to force President Barack Obama to seek permission from Congress to keep any U.S. troops in Afghanistan past the end of 2014.
Following a report by NBC News on Tuesday detailing a draft security agreement between the United States and Afghanistan, which envisions continued U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan following the conclusion of combat operations, Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and three other senators have offered an amendment to an annual defense spending bill to limit Obama's authority.
Merkley's amendment is cosponsored by Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden, Ore., and Joe Manchin, W.Va., along with Republican Sen. Rand Paul, Ky., a conservative critic of broad global military involvement by the United States.
The amendment, if enacted, would force Obama to seek a vote in Congress to approve continued troop presence in Afghanistan by June of next year.
Merkley is looking to attach the amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, which is currently under consideration by the Senate. An aide to the Oregon senator suggested the Democratic leadership wouldn't decide whether to allow a vote on the amendment, which would serve as a mild rebuke to the White House, until after next week's Thanksgiving recess.
White House press secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday that any security agreement between the United States and Afghanistan would be consistent with Obama's promises.
"I think that when it comes to this president keeping his word in ending the war in Iraq, winding down and ending the war in Afghanistan, the public knows he's keeping his commitments," Carney said at his daily press briefing.
The press secretary emphasized that the agreement described by NBC on Tuesday was only a draft, and that Obama had not signed off on any joint-security agreement yet.
First published November 20 2013, 8:22 AM