A Quaker Lobby in the Public Interest
Representatives Oppose War Funding and Urge U.S. Withdrawal from Afghanistan, PakistanOn July 27, 2010 the House of Representatives engaged in a substantial debate over the War in Afghanistan and the U.S. military presence in Pakistan, specifically regarding the two bills, H.R. 4899 and H.Con.Res. 301. The following are excerpts from member remarks opposing the supplemental war funding and supporting an end of U.S. military engagement in Pakistan. For more analysis on the votes, see Jim Fine's blog post here.
H.R. 4899 Debate Over Bill Containing 2010 Supplemental War Funding
Rep. Obey (WI): Conscience Requires a "No"
"As chairman of the [House Appropriations] committee, I have an obligation to this House to bring this war supplemental before the House to allow this institution to work its will. But I also have the obligation of my conscience to indicate by my individual vote my profound skepticism that this action will accomplish much more than to serve as a recruiting incentive for those who most want to do us ill.…I cannot look my constituents in the eye and say that this operation will hurt our enemies more than it hurts us, and so I will reluctantly vote 'no.'"
Rep. McGovern (MA): Nationbuilding at Home, Not in Afghanistan
"Madam Speaker, the same old same old is simply not working, and it's costing us dearly. At a time when the American people are suffering through the worst economy in generations, we're told that we can't afford to extend unemployment benefits. We're told that we can't afford to help States keep cops on the beat or teachers in the classroom. We're told we can't afford to help more families send their kids to college.
"But today, we're asked to borrow another $33 billion for nation-building in Afghanistan. Well, with all due respect, Madam Speaker, I think we need to do some more nation-building here at home.…This is not just the President's war. It's our war too. Congress has an obligation to ask the tough questions and demand straight answers. We must not simply kick the can down the road and hope for the best."
Rep. Lee (CA): No Blank Check for War, Only for Orderly Withdrawal
"Congress cannot continue to write a blank check for a war in Afghanistan that has ultimately made our country less safe. Our brave men and women in uniform have been put in an impossible situation in Afghanistan where there is no military solution. It is time to provide funding for only their safe and orderly withdrawal. No more funding for combat operations."
Rep. McCollum (MN): "Emergency" is in our Communities
"It is simply unacceptable to abandon the serious needs of our communities while calling the war in Afghanistan-the longest war in the history of the United States-an 'emergency.'"
Rep. Braley (IA): Voted for Bill, not for War
"I applaud the House and Senate for acting today to ensure appropriate funding is available for disaster recovery and for other provisions in support of veterans, but I do not support another blank check for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan."
Rep. Blumenauer (OR): Time to Draw Down
"We need to start making the right choices. This means drawing down from a costly war that Americans and Afghans want to end, and investing in a better, more productive future for our country."
Rep. Maloney (NY): A Conscientious No
"I cannot in good conscience vote to continue funding this war at so high a cost and with no guarantee that our efforts are reaching our goals there and keeping the American people safe. That is why I vote “no” today."
Rep. Eshoo (CA): The War is Unjustifiable
"Madam Speaker, I have grave concerns about the legislation before the House to provide $37.1 billion for ongoing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our total war spending in Iraq and Afghanistan including the funding provided by this bill will exceed $1 trillion. Yet this spending comes without a viable exit strategy for the conflict in Afghanistan which is the longest war in our nation’s history....
Madam Speaker, without an exit strategy, approving billions more of hard-earned taxpayer dollars for the war in Afghanistan is difficult enough to justify. But this cost pales in comparison to the loss of American lives. June was the deadliest month in the war thus far, when 102 Americans made the ultimate sacrifice....
Most importantly, the President said our mission in Afghanistan must be definable and winnable. I believe it is neither, and I will vote against funding for it."
H. Con. Res. 301 Debate over Bill to Require the Withdrawal of U.S. Troops from Pakistan
Rep. Jones (NC): Expanding War is Irresponsible
"The dirty little secret to which few in Washington will own up is that the United States now faces the prospect of perpetual war and conflict. That's why this debate has to take place, whether we have three Americans killed in Pakistan or we have 33 or we have 300. Where is Congress meeting its responsibility? That's what this is about.
I will regret to the day I go to my grave that I voted to give President Bush the authority to go into Iraq. We did not meet our responsibilities….That's why I stand on the floor today with the gentleman from Ohio and the gentleman from Texas to say let's meet our responsibility."
Rep. Woolsey (CA): War Spending Feeds Deficit, Fuels Insurgencies
"Mr. Speaker, we are running up record deficits with two wars which have cost the United States in blood and treasure. Together, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost the American taxpayers over $1 trillion and, worst of all, more than 5,600 men and women in uniform have given their lives. And what do we get for all of this, Mr. Speaker? Instead of winning the hearts and minds of the Iraqi and Afghan people, we're fueling hatred and insurgency, and now we want to export that to Pakistan. I don't think so. Let's not do it."
Rep. Paul (TX): War Policy Neglects Domestic Needs
"Our mission ought to be to defend this country, preserve liberty, and show people what a free society looks like. We shouldn't be trying to tell other people how to live with bombs and threats. We give them two options: We tell them do it our way, and if they do, we give them a lot of money. If they don't do it our way, we start bombing them. But we don't achieve anything. That's my contention. We just go on and on.
My big beef is with the overall policy. I know we're talking about the technicalities and we're talking about Afghanistan and Pakistan, but we don't solve any of these technical problems until we deal with the subject of what kind of a foreign policy we endorse. Are we supposed to be the policemen of the world? Are we supposed to be in nation building? Are we supposed to bankrupt our people? Are we supposed to support the infrastructure of others, building all around the world and neglect all of ours?"
Rep. Ellison (MN): Challenging War is Congressional Duty
"Mr. Speaker, let there never be another war, military conflict, or armed hostilities involving U.S. military personnel that are not openly debated, expressly authorized and consented to, and scrupulously overseen by this Congress.
"We are the Congress. It is our job to do our constitutional duty. It is not second-guessing. It is oversight. It is engaging in the process of governance. There is nowhere in the Constitution that says that the President just gets to go fight wars without the oversight of the Congress. It is not unpatriotic. It is not being a poor citizen. It is our constitutional duty…."
Rep. Jackson-Lee (TX): Time to End War in Afghanistan
"Frankly, I believe it is time for us to come home from Afghanistan, having just returned just over 2 weeks ago, in the early part of July, when I was able to see the enormity of corruption and the lack of standing up by the Afghan Government. But I saw the resilience of the United States military and the willingness of the people in Afghanistan to be able to desire a better quality of life. I think that we are now poised to build the Afghan national security forces and to remove our forces from the dangers of the Taliban neighbors who live in Afghanistan, who are not leaving, who have a difference of opinion."
Rep. Kucinich (OH): Recent News Illustrates Need to End War
"It's been said early on in this debate that the WikiLeaks documents, 92,000 documents, I don't know who has had the time to read them all, but according to what's been said publicly, that it represents nothing new…. Now, if this has been going on for years and it's nothing new, you have to ask the question then why in the world weren't we having that debate over the last 6 years? If this is nothing new, why didn't the American people know all about this? Why did it take a document dump by WikiLeaks to suddenly wake up the Congress to say, Hey, wait a minute, the war isn't going the way you thought it was?.... And why isn't it affecting our policy right now? Why aren't we getting out of Afghanistan?"
Rep. Stark (CA): Stand for Peace
"The supplemental spending bill is the wrong approach. It would add $37 billion to the deficit to finance an additional 30,000 troops in Afghanistan. After nine years at war, we have little to show for our efforts despite $232 billion spent, over a thousand American lives lost, and tens of thousands of Afghan civilians dead. I urge my colleagues to stand for peace, vote for H. Con. Res. 301 to withdraw U.S. troops from Pakistan, and vote against the supplemental spending bill."