Voting 60 for and 39 against, the Senate on Oct. 1 agreed to conduct hearings on U.S. operations in Afghanistan after President Obama resets his policy there. The amendment was added to HR 3326. Obama is expected to respond by year's end to the military's request for tens of thousands of additional troops in Afghanistan, and Senate hearings would occur after his announcement. In part, the session would involve testimony by top commanders such as Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal and civilian leaders such as Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Carl Levin, D-Mich., said Armed Service Committee hearings should be set "in the same way as was done when President Bush was deliberating on a surge strategy for Iraq. That is when the president has received his recommendations and has made a decision."

John McCain, R-Ariz., urged hearings by mid-November, saying "we cannot afford to leisurely address this issue."

A yes vote was to hold hearings after Obama's announcement.

Voting yes: Al Franken, D, Amy Klobuchar, D

AFGHAN HEARINGS DEADLINE: Voting 40 for and 59 against, the Senate on Oct. 1 refused to set a Nov. 15 deadline for Senate hearings on U.S. operations in Afghanistan, even if President Obama has not responded by then to the military's request for a troop surge. The amendment was offered to the 2010 defense budget (HR 3326), which remained in debate.

John McCain, R-Ariz., said: "The American people need to know" what military commanders think. "This is an urgent situation. This is not a decision as to whether to send troops into harm's way. Troops are already in harm's way."

Carl Levin, D-Mich., said it took President Bush three of four months to decide on a troop surge in Iraq. "We should be treating...President Obama with the same respect for the deliberative process that we provided to President Bush," he said.

A yes vote was to require hearings by Nov. 15.

Voting no: Franken, Klobuchar

C-17 FUNDING DISPUTE: The Senate on Sept. 30 refused, 34 for and 64 against, to strip HR 3326 (above) of its $2.5 billion for buying 10 C-17 cargo planes not wanted by the Pentagon. The amendment sought to transfer the C-17 money to accounts that more directly support troops, military families and combat operations. Costing $250 million each, the politically popular C-17 is built mainly in California with suppliers in about 40 states.

John McCain, R-Ariz., said the choice was "we can either continue to fund an airplane that the military neither wants nor needs, or we can (fund) operations and maintenance which, according to the testimony of every military leader, is badly needed and wanted."

Christopher Bond, R-Mo., called the C-17 "a proven, combat-tested airlift capability that is essential to the fight we are in right now, and it has been a workhorse in Iraq and Afghanistan....With the war in Afghanistan heating up and the war in Iraq continuing, our airlift needs are only growing."

A yes vote opposed C-17 funding.

Voting yes: Franken, Klobuchar

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