- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Two senators — one Republican, one Democrat — are pushing a new bill to end the 18-year U.S. war in Afghanistan, the longest conflict in U.S. history.

Sens. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican, and Tom Udall, New Mexico Democrat, unveiled the American Forces Going Home After Noble Service Act, which would give the Pentagon a 45-day deadline to form a plan to withdraw American forces within one year.

It would also provide a financial bonus of $2,500 per military service member who served in the war, a one-time $7 billion cost.

“For over 17 years, our soldiers have gone above and beyond what has been asked of them in Afghanistan,” Mr. Paul, a longtime skeptic of U.S. overseas military missions, said in a statement.

“Soon, U.S. service members will begin deploying to Afghanistan to fight in a war that began before they were born,” Mr. Udall added. “As we face this watershed moment, it’s past time to change our approach to the longest war in our country’s history.”

The legislation calls for laying the groundwork for “political reconciliation” to be carried out by Afghans and repeals the 2001 authorization for use of military force. The Trump administration has been engaged in direct talks in Qatar with senior leaders of the insurgent Taliban movement on a cease-fire deal, although the Afghan government in Kabul has been excluded from the talks.

“It is time to declare the victory we achieved long ago,” Mr. Paul said, “bring them home, and put America’s needs first.”

Separately, Sen. Tim Kaine, Virginia Democrat, and Sen. Todd Young, Indiana Republican, teamed up on another bipartisan foreign policy bill that would formally end the 1991 and 2002 congressional measures authorizing military action in Iraq, 16 years after the end of the campaign that ousted Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

The lawmakers said the bill re-asserts Congress’s role in declaring — and ending — wars and reflects the partnership between Washington and the new democratic government in Baghdad.

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