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27 senators call for significant withdrawal from Afghanistan

June 16, 2011

With President Obama’s announcement on July withdrawal reportedly coming as soon as next week, a bipartisan group of senators sent a letter to the president urging a significant drawdown.

Nearly half the Senate Democratic Conference, including 10 committee chairmen, sent a letter to President Obama pressing him to shift his strategy in Afghanistan and begin a major drawdown of troops.

Those 24 senators were joined by one Independent and two members of the Senate Tea Party Caucus, all of them urging the president to make significant policy changes as Obama’s self-imposed July deadline for a troop drawdown approaches.

“We write to express our strong support for a shift in strategy and the beginning of a sizable and sustained reduction of U.S. military forces in Afghanistan, beginning in July 2011,” the lawmakers wrote Wednesday.

This is the strongest message yet from the Senate. When they voted last year on the Feingold amendment to require a timeline for withdrawal from Afghanistan, only 18 senators voted in favor, at a time when Democrats had a stronger majority in the Senate.

The letter adds to the pressure generated by the House vote on the McGovern/Jones amendment, which had the support of nearly every Democrat and 26 Republicans. It’s also notable because the Senate has had much less antiwar activity over the last couple of years compared to the flurry of bills proposed in the House.

Greg Sargent lays out the significance of the letter:

Any time nearly a third of the Senate speaks on anything, it’s a significant statement. And the range of signatories — it includes Dem leaders Chuck Schumer and Dick Durbin, as well as a host of moderate Democrats and Republicans Mike Lee and Rand Paul, hinting at a right-left alliance against the war — clearly demonstrates that the mainstream position is for speedy withdrawal.

Read the full text of the letter and see the list of signers here.

Thank you to all of you who called your senators to urge them to sign. The drumbeat against the war in Afghanistan has grown enormously over the last two years thanks to your efforts, and we will continue to push in the remaining days before President Obama makes his announcement.

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