WASHINGTON -- Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) expressed frustration with the duration of the U.S. presence in Afghanistan in an interview with ABC News, predicting that more Democrats will voice similar sentiments in the near future and push President Barack Obama to begin a substantial drawdown.
"One of the most important things is staying on schedule, starting in July, on withdrawing troops from Afghanistan because, one, it's not working so well, second, because of the cost of that to American taxpayers," Brown said. "I think we've been there too long."
U.S. taxpayers have spent $336 billion on the war in Afghanistan, according to the Congressional Research Service. Obama's proposed budget for the coming fiscal year includes another $110 billion in appropriations for military and civilian projects there.
On Tuesday, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) called on the Obama administration to release publicly a more detailed redeployment plan from Afghanistan than the White House has provided to this point. In January, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) introduced legislation that would put congressional support behind the withdrawal of U.S. combat forces beginning on July 1. That bill would also require Obama to submit a plan to Congress by July 31 for the phased redeployment of U.S. combat forces, including a completion day.
However, the House overwhelmingly defeated on Thursday a nonbinding resolution to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year. Just ninety-three lawmakers voted for the resolution, authored by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), though that marked a significant jump -- 28 more votes in favor -- than a similar resolution received from the lower chamber last year, when it was under Democratic control.
After the vote, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) released a statement stressing that although she and many other Democrats did not back Kucinich's resolution, their support for staying in Afghanistan may soon wear thin.
“I strongly believe that today’s vote in the House should not be taken as an indication of support in Congress for an open-ended commitment of U.S. forces," Pelosi said. "Americans have grown weary of war and many of us in Congress have expressed our opposition to an extended military presence in Afghanistan.”
Despite officials pointing to 2014 as the projected end of combat operations, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said during a recent visit to Afghanistan that some U.S. troops will most likely remain in-country beyond that date.
"I would say that if the Afghan people and the Afghan government are interested in an ongoing security relationship and some sort of an ongoing security presence -- with the permission of the Afghan government -- the United States, I think, is open to the possibility of having some presence here in terms of training and assistance, perhaps making use of facilities made available to us by the Afghan government for those purposes," Gates said.
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