Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) delayed the passage of the $740 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) on Thursday over an amendment that aims to block troop drawdowns in Afghanistan.
The amendment would block funds to bring troops out of Afghanistan until the Pentagon, State Department, and the director of national intelligence submit a report to Congress about how the drawdown would affect US security.
The assessment would be required as soon as the NDAA becomes law. Assessments would also be required when troop numbers go below 4,000, and again at 2,000. The Trump administration is currently executing a plan to bring numbers down to 2,500 by January 15th.
Senator Paul railed against the amendment on the Senate floor. “They believe that a president has the power to go to war anywhere anytime,” he said of the bill’s supporters. “But when a president tries to remove troops, they say ‘Oh no no. What we really want are 535 generals in Congress to tell him he can’t leave a war.’ How absurd is that?”
Paul warned that the bill would set “a very dangerous precedent for limiting a President’s power to end war.” Delaying a vote on the bill could lead to a government shutdown, as Congress was hoping to quickly pass the NDAA so they can vote on a stopgap spending bill to fund the government for another week. Paul said he would drop his objection if the Senate agrees to allow a final vote on the NDAA on Monday.
President Trump has threatened to veto the NDAA, mainly because it does not include a provision to repeal a law that gives tech platforms immunity from liability over the content published by third party users. The House passed the NDAA with a veto-proof majority on Tuesday.