House Republicans don't allow vote forcing Administration to stick to Afghanistan timetable
May 17th, 2012
10:52 PM ET
2 years ago

House Republicans don't allow vote forcing Administration to stick to Afghanistan timetable

Washington (CNN) - House Republicans pulled the plug on a vote Thursday on a bipartisan amendment to a defense bill that would force the Obama administration to stick firmly to its timetable for getting U.S. troops out of Afghanistan.

Republicans were concerned the amendment could pass, according to two GOP congressional sources. Instead, GOP members decided to allow limited debate on Afghanistan, but just on one amendment sponsored by California Democrat Barbara Lee that was guaranteed to fail. It would essentially end the war in Afghanistan by limiting funding to the "safe and orderly withdrawal" of U.S. troops.

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One of the Republican sources stressed that there were a combination of factors for not allowing a vote on the timetable proposal, including "a lack of White House engagement." GOP leaders expected a bloc of their own members to support the measure and they couldn't rely on the White House to lobby Democrats against it.

The source stressed Republicans didn't want to "roll the dice" and have a vote setting firm dates for the administration's war policy, which would expose significant reservations about the president's plan, which GOP leaders have largely supported.

Democratic Rep. Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, who pushed for the vote on the timetable amendment with North Carolina Republican Rep. Walter Jones, decried the decision to deny a vote on his proposal on Thursday. "What is the Republican leadership afraid of? Are they afraid a bipartisan majority of this House will vote to follow the will of the American people and change our Afghanistan policy?" he said.

McGovern explained that his amendment required the president to stand by his commitment to transition all combat operations to the Afghan government by the end of 2013 and complete the transition of all military and security operations by the end of 2014. It would have also required the administration to come back to Congress for approval if it wanted any troops to stay beyond 2014.

Jones told CNN he was confident the amendment would have passed. "That's the reason they didn't bring it up," he said.

He added that he talked to House Speaker John Boehner Wednesday night and urged him to allow a vote on it, and told Boehner he had "a lot of support" for the measure.

Boehner's office declined to comment on the matter.

Last year McGovern and Jones offered a similar amendment to the defense bill that would require the administration to give a detailed timetable, but that failed narrowly - 204-215, and the close vote surprised many in the Obama administration. Jones said that in addition to the 26 who voted for the measure last year he was told by colleagues he could get another seven or eight Republican votes, which could have potentially changed the outcome this time.

A frustrated Jones said he would try again to attach the language to the defense spending bill when it comes up. "This is supposed to be the people's House - that means we listen to the people. How about listening to the 72% of those who say get out of Afghanistan? We're stone deaf for whatever reason I don't understand."

Lee's amendment to withdraw troops was defeated 113-303, but it did demonstrate the willingness, again, for a significant number of Democrats to split with the president on his war policy - over a hundred Democrats voted for it.

Lee argued on the House floor, "It is time to say enough is enough. With almost 2,000 United States troops killed in Afghanistan and many tens of thousands more maimed with injuries both hidden and visible, we must recognize that the boots on the ground strategy in Afghanistan must end."

But Republicans countered that the California Democrat's amendment amounted to "getting out now" and could result in opening up the United States again to a terrorist attack.

New Mexico Republican Rep. Steve Pearce, who noted he flew combat missions in the Vietnam War in the early 1970s when Congress voted to restrict funding for that war, said Lee's amendment would signal to America's enemies that it was willing to abandon its troops on the ground.

A visibly agitated Pearce said, "I'm telling you as someone who was there during a time when Congress choked off the funds to people that were in harm's way, I had a burning anger and that anger burns today, and when I see this amendment and visualize the young men and women over there who you're cutting funds off and saying, 'We're going to leave you with an orderly and quiet withdrawal ...'" The New Mexico Republican maintained because of attacks by the enemy that kind of withdrawal is "not humanly possible."


Filed under: Afghanistan • Congress • President Obama • Republicans
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. fatzer

    Well said steve pearce thats called seeing things the way they really are and not distorting the facts of whats happening on the ground

    May 17, 2012 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  2. Larry L

    This reminds me of Vietnam. Every delay and political move translates into the deaths of actual Servicemembers. This isn't about Republican "chickenhawks" who want war at all costs, they could have joined our Warriors and directly participated in this conflict. I came out of retirement to serve a couple of more years – at the age of 61. They would have accepted most of these "suits" who want America to fight in an area that hasn't been successfully conquered since Gengis Khan. This is about sleazy politicians voting some party-line and working to actually hurt our economic recovery. Throw these radicals out and let's get to work.

    May 17, 2012 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  3. bill

    i don't remember what the russians did when they decided to leave afghanistan. how long did it take? how many
    additional casualties were there of their own and civilians caught in the middle? certainly the russians are not
    as humanitarian minded as the u.s. so, their withdrawal is a benchmark that the u.s. can use to determine when
    and how to leave.

    May 17, 2012 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  4. sky

    House Republicans pulled the plug on every bill Obama poses since day 1, why would the house republican pass any bill that the president pose?. Help the country INDEPENDENT 4 Life

    May 18, 2012 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  5. Ex AF

    Vn was as much a quagmire as Afghanistan. No mission, no end in sight. Our side doesn't care about the country. How long does it take to train and army and police? this goes on and on and on. Time to get out and leave them to their fate. We have spent enough. When 1/4 of your casualties are from locals on your side, its time to get out of this place.

    May 18, 2012 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  6. enuff

    The comment that was made in the middle of this article says it all: they don't want to be exposed. The republicans who shut this down are so afraid of exposing their own agendas and marching orders from the tea party that they will even throw their own party members under the bus. If you see that your representative has only expressed a desire to remove Obama and not represent THE PEOPLE – vote them out.

    May 18, 2012 01:56 am at 1:56 am |
  7. s

    Of Course REpubs, lets waste more money, can;t have it both ways

    May 18, 2012 03:47 am at 3:47 am |
  8. LisaLV711

    Here's a thought. Let's send the Republican congress to Afghanistan until the Democrats in congress decide to take a vote whether or not to bring them back. How's that, Speaker Boehner?

    May 18, 2012 05:04 am at 5:04 am |
  9. Iamnotfooled

    At least Rep. Jones is doing the right thing. Now if more Republicans would realize they work for the American people, like he does, we could move this country forward. At least he is not a sheep.

    May 18, 2012 05:20 am at 5:20 am |
  10. Chris

    Republicans are back to their same old "stay the course" ideologies that turned both Afghanistan and Iraq into quagmires.

    May 18, 2012 06:21 am at 6:21 am |
  11. Barry from Wisconsin

    I think it is high time for the US to get out of Afghanistan. We have been there over 10 years with little to show for it. The place is tribal. The Brits could not subdue it – neither could the Russians.

    The "people" (us) want the USA to withdraw and let whatever happens happen. We have gotten very good at using drones and special forces to target terrorist leadership. That should continue….

    May 18, 2012 06:47 am at 6:47 am |
  12. Marie MD

    What? The spineless weeper of the house is not going to throw a little girl like temper tantrum. The inhumanity of it all, including another blackmailing by the tea tards!

    May 18, 2012 06:47 am at 6:47 am |
  13. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    The unhinged GOBP never saw a war that they didn't love for the profits, a billion a week from this one.

    May 18, 2012 06:55 am at 6:55 am |
  14. Gurgyl

    "Republicans are for the detriment if this great big nation".
    They are cult.

    May 18, 2012 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  15. Marc S

    This just in. GOP postpones the vote on the Presidents request to go to the bathroom because the country can't afford another 4 years with his liberal bladder.... When will everyone start to understand that all the GOP wants is to disrupt government and make him a one term President. No matter which side you look at from, the GOP is constipating the government for their own gain.

    May 18, 2012 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  16. Anonymous

    The signal to America's enemies that we do not have the stomach to actually WIN as opposed to "fight" wars was the Bush Administrations two historic, in the middle of two wars, tax cuts. The bad guys could figure out that "support the troops" was no more than a handy catch phrase that remained valid so long as "support" did not cost Americans so much as a dime.

    May 18, 2012 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  17. W.G.

    Of course the republicans were against the U.S. getting out of Afghanistan . Their Rich republican weapon
    makers would start to lose money . Also with the Islamic terrorist influence in the Republican party they want us
    to recieve and further weaken the U.S. Military . Grover Norquist who is a practising Muslim with ties through his
    wife to Hamas has done a good job of slowing down the economical growth of our country with his separitist
    no new tax bill . He even pulled strings to get Suhail Khan a former fundraisr for al Qaeda al Zawahiri
    on to the board of CPAC . The republican party are the real threat and traitors to the U.S. .

    May 18, 2012 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  18. CBR

    Mr. Romney has not said he would end the war on Day 1.Where does he stand on the war?

    May 18, 2012 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  19. Natalie in MN

    This failed Congress needs to be fired! They are not representing us, the people. The GOP should be embarrassed with this outcome. This is proof that a Romney Presidency (god forbid) would be a shoe in for more wars, more spending. Wake up, people!

    May 18, 2012 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  20. America Beautiful -- Less GOP/TP

    It's mind-boggling that Repuke are one one had screaming about spending but on the other hand wasting ridiculous amount of money on unnecessary, unfunded, our young solders killing war. Red meat eaters, wake up and THINK (it amy be hard for some of you) not just take talking points from the like of fat Limbaugh or Hannity, etc. Let's put the country above your rigid party association...

    May 18, 2012 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  21. The REAL Truth...

    Once again the Grand Obstructionist Party is hard at work serving their masters. They are the best politicians money can buy, and a few more dead US troops matters not to them.. Viva la war machine.. icebergs be damned.. full speed ahead!!

    May 18, 2012 10:00 am at 10:00 am |