House Letter Supports Accelerated Afghanistan Withdrawal

Feb 10, 2012

On February 1st, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced that the United States will end its combat missions in Afghanistan by “mid- to the latter part of 2013.” Previously, combat operations were expected to end in 2014.

This policy shift is similar to what Reps. Jim McGovern (MA) and Walter Jones (NC) and Sen. Jeff Merkley (OR) pressed for in amendments offered last year in both chambers.

The following congressional letter to President Obama supports this announcement. It is currently circulating in the House gaining signatures. See the updated list of signers below.

If your representative is not on the list, please call toll free: 877-429-0678 and urge them to sign on and show their support for an accelerated withdrawal from Afghanistan. If your representative is on this list, please call and say thank you!

The Honorable Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President,

We write to express our support for the Administration’s announcement on February 1st that the United States will complete combat operations in Afghanistan by the end of next year.

From information reported in the media, the U.S. intends to transition from major combat operations in Afghanistan to a “training, advice and assist role” by the middle-to-latter part of 2013. We applaud this announcement by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to accelerate the transition away from combat operations, and it provides assurance that the timeframe outlined in your 2009 speech at West Point will be carried out. As you know, many of us support an even more rapid withdrawal of all our troops from Afghanistan.

The majority of Americans want a safe and orderly military withdrawal from Afghanistan as quickly as possible, as recent public opinion polls indicate. The desire by the American people for an accelerated transition in Afghanistan was reflected in votes taken in Congress last year, in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate during their respective debates on amendments offered by Representatives McGovern and Jones and by Senator Merkley to the FY 2012 National Defense Authorization Act. These votes show there is strong bipartisan political support to take bold steps regarding U.S. policy in Afghanistan.

The past 10 years have cost America dearly in the blood and sacrifice of our military servicemen and women and their families, and in our nation’s fiscal health and security. The United States intervened in Afghanistan to destroy al Qaeda’s safe haven, remove th Taliban government that sheltered al Qaeda, and pursue those who planned the September 11th attacks on the United States; those objectives have largely been met and no longer require a large presence of combat troops in Afghanistan. While questions remain about the details of the announced transition – when and how quickly U.S. troops will be coming home, the number and purpose of troops that might remain in Afghanistan and for how long a period, the costs and the savings of accelerating the completion of combat operations – the February 1st announcement clearly signals that now is the moment to initiate the transition, end the war in Afghanistan and bring our troops home.

Sincerely, Members of Congress

PDF version of the letter available here.

The FINAL 88 signers are:

Jim McGovern (MA)
Walter Jones (NC)
Barbara Lee (CA)
Jimmy Duncan, Jr. (TN)
John Garamendi (CA)
Justin Amash (MI)
Janice Hahn (CA)
John Conyers, Jr. (MI)
Raul Grijalva (AZ)
Sam Farr (CA)
Gary Peters (MI)
Jesse Jackson, Jr. (IL)
John Lewis (GA)
Lynn Woolsey (CA)
Judy Chu (CA)
Lois Capps (CA)
Henry Waxman (CA)
Bruce Braley (IA)
Ben Ray Luján (NM)
Martin Heinrich (NM)
Mike Honda (CA)
Chellie Pingree (ME)
Pete Stark (CA)
Mike Thompson (CA)
Bob Filner (CA)
Barney Frank (MA)
Keith Ellison (MN)
Jackie Speier (CA)
Ed Towns (NY)
Jan Schakowsky (IL)
Charlie Gonzalez (TX)
Carolyn Maloney (NY)
Gwen Moore (WI)
Steve Cohen (TN)
Charles Gonzalez (TX)
Jim McDermott (WA)
Niki Tsongas (MA)
David Cicilline (RI)
Jared Polis (CO)
Tammy Baldwin (WI)
Paul Tonko (NY)
Mike Quigley (IL)
Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX)
Maurice Hinchey (NY)
Anna Eshoo (CA)
José Serrano (NY)
Louise Slaughter (NY)
Donald Payne (NJ)
Zoe Lofgren (CA)
Richard Neal (MA)
Earl Blumenauer (OR)
Grace Napolitano (CA)
Pete Visclosky (IN)
George Miller (CA)
Adam Smith (WA)
Rick Larsen (WA)
Peter DeFazio (OR)
Jerrold Nadler (NY)
Suzanne Bonamici (OR)
Laura Richardson (CA)
Kurt Schrader (OR)
Michael Michaud (ME)
Mike Capuano (MA)
John Olver (MA)
Hansen Clarke (MI)
Chaka Fattah (PA)
Mazie Hirono (HI)
David Loebsack (IA)
Leonard Boswell (IA)
Diana DeGette (CO)
David Price (NC)
Peter Welch (VT)
Timothy Johnson (IL)
Rush Holt (NJ)
Roscoe Bartlett (MD)
Howard Coble (NC)
Ed Whitfield (KY)
Dana Rohrabacher (CA)
Rosa DeLauro (CT)
Jerry Costello (IL)
Hank Johnson (GA)
Brad Miller (NC)
Robert Brady (PA)
Betty McCollum (MN)
Dennis Kucinich (OH)
Joe Crowley (NY)
Donna Edwards (MD)
Jo Ann Emerson (MO)

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