The death of Usama bin Laden has invigorated calls on the anti-war left and deficit-conscious right to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan, as lawmakers suggest the motivation for staying has diminished.
The White House so far is standing by its original timetable, which calls for a conditions-based gradual drawdown starting in July 2011. President Obama repeatedly has said the mission is to "disrupt, dismantle and defeat" Al Qaeda and its affiliates. Bin Laden was the most wanted member, but administration officials warn the fight is not over just because he's dead.
Still, some lawmakers say the end of the hunt for bin Laden should cause Congress to reassess the war and the U.S. commitment there.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced a bill Thursday calling for an "accelerated transition" in Afghanistan. The bill would demand the president submit a plan to Congress with a drawdown timeline and "completion date" within 60 days.
"Now that bin Laden is dead and Al Qaeda is scattered around the globe, does it really make sense to keep using over 100,000 U.S. troops to occupy Afghanistan and prop up a corrupt government? I don't think so," said Rep. James McGovern, D-Mass. "This is the longest war in our history. There is no end in sight."
Lawmakers, citing concerns about the economy and deficit, said the administration should redirect the billions in war dollars toward investments at home.
"We need to stop digging in this hole," said Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., another co-sponsor of the bill.
The proposed legislation would also require quarterly reports from the administration detailing progress toward the transition, as well as total financial costs of the mission and the number of U.S. forces killed or wounded.
Though support for the long-running Afghanistan mission is starting to deteriorate, the president continues to have plenty of allies on the Hill who say U.S. forces have an important role to play in the region.
"Getting bin Laden is a turning point. It's like a Gettysburg in the War on Terror," Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., told Fox News. "It doesn't mean we've won it. But it means we've turned the corner."
Though Al Qaeda has mostly moved out of Afghanistan, the Taliban threat looms and the Obama administration wants to make sure the Afghan government and security forces are stable and strong enough to stand up on their own when U.S. forces leave. The U.S. has waged its war against Al Qaeda operatives mostly in Pakistan and elsewhere, with drone attacks and intelligence gathering and cooperation with Pakistani security forces -- though that cooperation is now in question given bin Laden's location on the outskirts of a Pakistan military town.
But anti-war groups and lawmakers say bin Laden's death would make an appropriate endpoint.
"The elimination of Usama bin Laden should now prompt us to bring our troops home from Afghanistan and Iraq," Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, said on the House floor Wednesday. "Al Qaeda was never in Iraq and we were supposedly in Afghanistan to get Usama bin Laden. With bin Laden gone, there's no reason for our presence in this region unless indeed it was all about oil, nation building and remaking the Middle East and Central Asia."