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      U.S. Senate Votes for Accelerated Afghanistan Withdrawal

      The US Senate voted 62-33 on Thursday for an “accelerated” withdrawal of American combat troops from Afghanistan to be completed no later than the scheduled December 31, 2014, deadline or “at the earliest date consistent with a safe and orderly drawdown.”

      The passing of the amendment sends an unprecedented bipartisan message from the Senate majority to Kabul, NATO and any Pentagon commanders opposing the deadline. The amendment rebukes Pentagon advocates of another “fighting season” for US troops in Afghanistan.

      It does not address, however, the subject of how many “residual forces” may be left in non-combat roles now being debated in Washington.

      Democratic co-authors of the amendment by Sen. Jeff Merkeley (D-OR) included: Baucus, Begich, Bingaman, Boxer, Brown, Cantwell, Cardin, Conrad, Durbin, Franken, Harkin, Leahy, Manchin, Paul, Sanders and Whitehouse.

      Republican senators who supported the amendment included Senators Brown (R-MA), Cochran (R-MS), Collins (R-ME), Corker (R-TN), Grassley (R-IA), Hoeven (R-ND), Lee (R-UT), Lugar (R-IN), Moran (R-KS), Paul (R-KY), Snowe (R-ME), Thune (R-SD), and Toomey (R-PA).

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