Montana's senior U.S. Senator Max Baucus secured a bipartisan measure designed to end America's longest war and bring troops home from Afghanistan. The amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act calls on the President to steadily draw down U.S. troop levels, and to hand over lead security responsibility to the government of Afghanistan by mid-summer 2013. It cleared the U.S. Senate today by a vote of 62 to 33.
"It's beyond time to bring our troops home from Afghanistan and invest in nation-building here at home. Our troops have done an incredible job and they continue to carry out their mission honorably every day. It's time for Afghans to take responsibility for their own country. It's time to honor our troops by bringing them home to their families and investing in America, so they have good-paying jobs to come home to," said Baucus.
· In March, Baucus led a bipartisan group of 24 Senators calling on the President to bring American combat forces home from Afghanistan.
· Baucus has repeatedly been calling for a change of course in Afghanistan since the death of Osama bin Laden last Spring (watch here).
Today's amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act also calls on the President to accelerate that timeline and end all regular combat operations and draw down troop levels as soon as can be accomplished in a safe and orderly manner. The amendment also explicitly clarifies that it does not limit the President's authority to attack al Qaeda forces, to authorize our troops to defend themselves if threatened, to support the training of Afghan security forces, or to share intelligence with our allies operating in Afghanistan and Pakistan.