This vote was on an amendment by John McCain, R-Ariz., that would have required Congress to hold a hearing no later than Nov. 15, 2009, on recommendations for additional forces and resources required to achieve America’s objectives in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
McCain’s amendment would order the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, the commanders of the U.S. Central Command, U.S. forces in Afghanistan, the U.S. European Command and Supreme Allied Command in Europe to appear before Congress. The amendment was offered to the ill that funds the Defense Department and related spending in fiscal 2010.
McCain’s amendment was offered as a counterpoint to another amendment by Carl Levin, D-Mich., which required many of the same people to testify, but without an ultimate date. Levin’s amendment instead would specify that the hearings should occur after President Obama has had a chance to decide the course of the war in Afghanistan going forward.
McCain said the situation in Afghanistan is critical and that the longer decisions are delayed, the more perilous daily life becomes for the U.S. troops that are already there. McCain advocated for his amendment, which would require that U.S. commanders and others appear before Congress within 45 days to testify.
“I want to emphasize to my colleagues, we are asking, sometime within the next 45 days, an appearance by the leaders we have put in charge of the lives of our young American men and women. We are just asking for them to come and testify before our committees of jurisdiction, to exercise our responsibilities as representatives of our States,” McCain said.
Levin replied that President Bush was given time to make decisions about the conduct of the war in Iraq before asking the leaders of the effort to appear before Congress to discuss progress, and that Obama should be given the same courtesy.
“The right strategy here is key, as well as the resources. And to set an artificial date is a terrible precedent. To put a commander in the field at a public hearing to try to pressure a Commander in Chief to reach a certain result is unacceptable, inappropriate. The Secretary of Defense is not going to allow it, nor should he, and we are not going to ask it, as chairman of the Armed Services Committee. I hope the Senate does not ask for that to happen either. We did not do that to President Bush. We should not do that to President Obama,” Levin said.
By a vote of 40-59, the amendment was rejected. Every Republican present voted for the amendment. Every Democrat present voted against the amendment. The end result is that McCain’s amendment to require congressional hearings on progress in Afghanistan y Nov. 15, 2009, was defeated. (Earlier, Levin’s amendment, which contained no date certain, was adopted, see vote 304)