CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and three other U.S. senators introduced a resolution on Thursday to require formal congressional approval for any further military actions in Afghanistan after this year.
Sens. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.; Mike Lee, R-Utah; and Rand Paul, R-Ky., co-sponsored the resolution.
"According to news reports, the [Obama] Administration is currently in negotiations with the Government of Afghanistan to maintain a presence in Afghanistan for another 10 years past 2014, with as many as 10,000 troops or more stationed in the country," the four senators stated in a press release.
Manchin said, "After 13 years, more than 2,300 American lives lost and more than $600 billion spent, it is time to bring our brave warriors home to the hero's welcome they deserve and begin rebuilding America, not Afghanistan.
"We do not have an ally in President [Ahmad] Karzai and his corrupt regime. His statements and actions have proven that again and again. Most West Virginians believe like I do: money or military might won't make a difference in Afghanistan. It's time to bring our troops home."
The resolution would require the United States to complete redeployment of its armed forces and all U.S.-funded private military contractors by Dec. 31.
"Our government shall then "pursue diplomatic efforts leading to a political settlement and reconciliation of the internal conflict in Afghanistan," Manchin said.
The resolution states it does not intend to prohibit attacking "al Qaeda forces where such forces are located." It also supports continued "financial support and equipment to ... Afghanistan for the training and supply of Afghanistan military and security forces."
In remarks during a news conference on Thursday, Manchin said, "If you look at the diverse groups of us that came together on this, it went well beyond politics. We are taking politics out of this....
"This resolution basically says it all -- Rebuild America, not Afghanistan. Our troops have done their job, they have completed their mission," Manchin said.
"We do not have an ally in Karzai. Why would we continue to support him and keep our troops there when we are not wanted?"
Today's resolution is similar to a resolution Manchin introduced last year, which never came up for a vote in the Senate.
Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjny...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.