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House Votes Today on Afghan, Pakistan Wars

The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote this afternoon on the wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

This morning, the Senate version of the Afghanistan war supplemental was brought up under "suspension" rules, which require a 2/3 majority to pass. This expedited procedure is generally used for measures considered "uncontroversial," which is odd, to say the least, since the war in Afghanistan is anything but uncontroversial, with the most recent evidence being the release by Wikileaks of secret documents on the war, which the New York Times reported "offers an unvarnished, ground-level picture of the war in Afghanistan that is in many respects more grim than the official portrayal."

House Appropriations Chair David Obey, who will vote no on the war supplemental, asked for a roll call, which is expected this afternoon, some time after 2pm Eastern.

On July 1, 162 Members of the House voted for the McGovern-Obey-Jones amendment that would have required President Obama to establish a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan, the position of 54% of Americans, according to a recent CBS poll. The measure being voted on this afternoon contains no provision concerning a timetable for withdrawal. Nor does it include the money to prevent the layoffs of teachers that the House attached to the war supplemental on July 1.

If 90% of the Members who voted for the McGovern-Obey-Jones amendment on July 1 vote no this afternoon on the war supplemental, the measure will fail.

That wouldn't imply that the war supplemental wouldn't pass the House in some form eventually. It would mean that the war supplemental couldn't be rushed through the House under expedited procedures. And a defeat of the war supplemental under suspension rules would send a strong signal from the House that it's time to change policy from death, maiming, and destruction for no reason to serious efforts to reach a political settlement that ends the war and brings the troops home.

Also on the House calendar today is H.Con.Res. 301, a "privileged resolution" introduced by Reps. Dennis Kucinich, Bob Filner, and Ron Paul, which invokes the War Powers Act to force a debate and vote on the deployment of U.S. forces in Pakistan.

As Representative Kucinich points out, what U.S. forces are doing in Pakistan has never been authorized by Congress. The 2001 authorization of military force targeted those who planned and carried out the September 11 attacks and those who harbored them. It was not a blank check to attack anyone we don't like, or anyone our friends don't like. U.S. forces in Pakistan are targeting people who did not, as far as we know, plan or participate in the September 11 attacks, and against whom no evidence has been presented that they harbor those who did. Whether one thinks the enterprise worthy or not, U.S. participation in a war against the internal foes of Pakistan has never been authorized by Congress. There's nothing in the 2001 authorization of military force about a barter agreement in which we attack people in Pakistan that the Pakistani government doesn't like in exchange for permission to attack people in Pakistan that we don't like.

You can urge your Representative to vote no on the war supplemental (HR 4899) and yes on Rep. Kucinich's resolution against the presence of U.S. troops in Pakistan (H.Con.Res. 301) by using the toll-free number established by FCNL: 1-888- 493-5443.

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Robert Naiman

Robert Naiman

Robert Naiman is Policy Director at Just Foreign Policy. Naiman has worked as a policy analyst and researcher at the Center for Economic and Policy Research and Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch. He has masters degrees in economics and mathematics from the University of Illinois and has studied and worked in the Middle East. You can contact him here.

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