Congress, Standing Against Public Majority, Votes for More War in Afghanistan

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Common Dreams

Congress, Standing Against Public Majority, Votes for More War in Afghanistan

Amendment to end combat operations and withdrawal troops fails with bipartisan support in US House

by
Common Dreams staff

Congresswoman Lee (D-CA) discussing her amendment to end the war in Afghanistan.

By a vote of 303-113, the US House of Representatives rejected an amendment by California's Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) on Thursday that would have swiftly ended combat operations in Afghanistan by limiting funds only to the "safe and orderly withdrawal of U.S. troops and military contractors from Afghanistan."

The amendment was among dozens debated during passage of the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

"The American people are far ahead of Congress. It's past time to end the war and bring the troops home," Lee said ahead of the vote. "My amendment allows Congress the opportunity to stand squarely with the war-weary American people who want to bring our troops home. The call has been growing across this land to bring this war to an end. It's time now for the Congress to answer the call here today."  It was not to be.

An Associated Press-GfK poll released last week showed that backing for the war has hit a new low and is on par with support for the Vietnam War in the early 1970s, reports the Christian Science Monitor. Only 27 percent of Americans say they support the war effort, and 66 percent oppose it, according to the survey.

Other amendments to reign in military spending and temper a hawkish foreign policy were also defeated during the NDAA debate.

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Congresswoman Lee Discussing Her Amendment to End the War in Afghanistan:

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Christian Science Moniter: House reauthorizes Afghan conflict in bipartisan vote

The vote came as the House considered a $642 billion defense budget for next year, debating more than 140 amendments to the far-reaching legislation. Final passage of the measure was expected Friday.

Rather than a speedy withdrawal from Afghanistan, the spending blueprint calls for keeping a sizable number of U.S. combat troops in the country. The bill cites significant uncertainty in Afghanistan about U.S. military support and says that to reduce the uncertainty and promote stability the president should "maintain a force of at least 68,000 troops through Dec. 31, 2014, unless fewer forces can achieve United States objectives."

The United States currently has 88,000 troops there. President Barack Obama envisions a final withdrawal of U.S. combat troops in 2014. Earlier this month, he signed an agreement with Afghan President Hamid Karzai on the role of America forces in counterterrorism and training of the Afghan military. The president insisted that the U.S. combat role was winding down.

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The Hill: Three other amendments were rejected earlier in the day by voice vote

• Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), prohibits the Joint Special Operations Command from conducting drone strikes against targets whose identity is not known or is based solely on patterns of behavior the target (aka "signature" strikes).

• Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), terminates the F-35B aircraft program and would direct the funds authorized for such to procure an additional number of F/A-18E/F aircraft and to deficit reduction.

• Rep. Michael Quigley (D-Ill.), eliminates funds made available for the procurement of the V-22 Osprey aircraft and would direct the funds authorized for such to deficit reduction.

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