WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) has joined a bipartisan group of 20 senators in passing an amendment (No. 3096) to the FY 2013 National Defense Authorization Act that requires President Obama to maintain his commitment to responsibly wind down American forces presence in Afghanistan. The amendment passed the Senate by a vote of 62- to-33.
The amendment, introduced by U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), transitions the primary responsibility for security to the Government of Afghanistan by mid-summer of 2013 and ends combat operations at the earliest date while ensuring a safe and orderly drawdown of all U.S. troops, which must be accomplished no later than December 31, 2014. This provision is particularly important because the House version of the NDAA calls for keeping at least 68,000 troops in Afghanistan through the end of 2014.
“This country went to war in Afghanistan to dismantle the al Qaeda and bring to justice those responsible for the 9-11 attacks. Since then, we have killed Osama bin Laden and have decimated the al Qaeda network. After 11 years and more than $500 billion spent, it is time to end the longest war in American history. It’s time to bring our troops home,” said Senator Cardin.
Senator Cardin was joined in cosponsoring the amendment by Senators: Rand Paul (R-KY), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Max Baucus (D-MT), Mark Begich (D-AK), Jeff Blingman (D-NM), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Kent Conrad (D-ND), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Al Franken (D-MN), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Bernard Sanders (I-VT) , Charles Schumer (D-NY), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Mike Lee (R-UT), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).