Senate Rejects Amendment Requiring Generals to Testify on Afghanistan

Posted October 1, 2009 at 2:14pm

Updated: 4:21 p.m.A partisan divide over the war in Afghanistan was on display in the Senate on Thursday when Members rejected along party lines an amendment requiring Gen. David Petraeus and Gen. Stanley McChrystal to testify before Congress. Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) amendment, which would have required hearings on Afghanistan no later than Nov. 15, was voted down 59-40. McCain offered the amendment to the Defense appropriations bill after criticizing the Obama administration for stalling an announcement over whether to send more troops or pursue a counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan. “I’m very disappointed that John [McCain] would do this,— Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told reporters Thursday. “I know he knows a lot more about the military than I do, but I met with Secretary Gates this morning and he said, ‘I can’t imagine anyone even thinking that something like that would be appropriate.’ That’s Secretary Gates [talking], not Harry Reid.—Reid said the Senate should instead “follow the same routine that was set up on the surge in Iraq— in 2007, when Congress heard from Petraeus and then-U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker after President George W. Bush announced his military plan. Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) offered an amendment Thursday to that end, calling on Petraeus, McChrystal and other military leaders to appear before Congress after a plan for Afghanistan is announced. That amendment was accepted 60-39. Meanwhile, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) predicted Thursday that the Obama administration would ultimately need to reach out to Republicans to get support for a troop increase. “I suspect at some point there will be some conversation with us about Afghanistan, but it hasn’t happened yet,— Boehner told reporters. Over the past few weeks, House and Senate Republicans have said they will support a troop increase in Afghanistan if Petraeus and McChrystal believe it is necessary to stabilize the region. Congressional Democrats have become increasingly wary of the conflict, and many have said they do not support sending additional funding and soldiers to the region if there is not a clear strategy to end U.S. involvement. Boehner called again for McChrystal to testify to the House and the Senate to explain the situation in Afghanistan and outline his strategy. “We continue to want Gen. McChrystal to come to the Congress to testify,— Boehner said. “If the White House can approve his trip to London to speak to a think tank yesterday, he clearly could come to the United States Congress and testify in House and the Senate.—