Merkley Amendment Update
Afghanistan Study Group Blogger
The NDAA still has to clear a number of hurdles before becoming law, and its chance of success is unclear. The Senate is expected to vote on the bill today. If it passes, Senate and House will then have to reconcile their different versions of the bill. Whether the Afghanistan amendment will stick or be stripped out in the conference committee is anyone’s guess.
Assuming the NDAA survives this process with the Merkley amendment intact, there is still a big caveat: the amendment calls on the president to produce a timeline for an accelerated drawdown, but it is not legally binding. Drawdown critics like Sen. John McCain have noted this, dismissing the amendment as “a nice informational, notional kind of thing.”
Caveats and questions aside, the Senate’s approving the amendment is a very positive sign. It means that some members of Congress are starting to ask the questions that need to be asked. Sen. Merkley posed a particularly good one in yesterday’s floor debate. “Given our success in destroying al-Qaida training camps and pursuing those responsible for 9/11, why haven’t we brought our troops and our tax dollars home?” he said. Questions like these should be the driver for getting our Afghanistan strategy back on track.