December 1st, 2009
03:20 PM ET
9 years ago

Members of Congress react to Obama's Afghanistan decision

Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama's decision to send another 30,000 troops to Afghanistan met with a mixed reaction among Capitol Hill Democrats Tuesday. Leading Republicans backed the additional deployments, but questioned the creation of a three-year withdrawal timetable.

The sharp disagreement among members of Obama's own party indicates potential political trouble for the president as he tries to rally the country around his decision to expand American involvement in the eight-year conflict.

Obama is slated to announce the new troop deployments - along with the three-year withdrawal plan - in a speech at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, on Tuesday night.

(Read reactions from selected members of Congress after the jump)

Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wisconsin:
"I am not in favor of what I have heard so far. ... Fundamentally I think increasing troops is not the answer, and I will be actively opposing it. I am confused why we would spend three years taking enormous loss and enormous cost in Afghanistan where we have other priorities that are greater."

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont (caucuses with Democrats):
"It's a reaction of disappointment. This country is in the midst of a severe recession. We need to invest in our young people. We need to invest in infrastructure. We need to invest in sustainable energy. ... This is an international issue. This is not just an American issue. Where is Europe? Where is Russia? Where is China? Are they just sitting around and saying we don't have to do anything because Uncle Sam is going to pay the bills?"

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri:
"I'm hopeful this president has taken the time and made the effort to think through whatever mission we will have over there. How we will accomplish it within a reasonable timeframe with some kind of certainty to the American people. The surge came about in Iraq because this kind of deliberative thought never occurred in the Bush administration as it related to (the) conflict in Iraq."

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-Louisiana:
"I generally support (Obama's plan) but I have two concerns. One, that we find a way to pay for this, not just charge it to our children and grandchildren. Secondly, I want to know more about the increase of troops and resources because I'm not convinced we can ultimately defeat the Taliban with military might alone. ... I want to support increased muscle but that muscle has to be attached to increased hope and opportunity and economic support."

Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pennsylvania:
"We have to be very thoughtful about this. We have to get it right. The stakes are higher than they were in Iraq. It's going to take a lot of work in both parties. ... Just as the president engaged in a multi-week review, I think the Congress needs to do the same as well. ... We have to get it right, and if that means there's a division (then) there's a division."

Rep. Jane Harman, D-California:
"Expanding our military footprint in Afghanistan is a mistake. A larger occupation gives the Taliban an enhanced recruiting tool, continues the dependency of Afghan fighters on our superior training and logistics, and commits scarce U.S. resources ... at a time when other counterterrorism challenges - including inside the United States - appear more urgent."

Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland:
"Across the spectrum (the Democratic) caucus is concerned about the failure to succeed in Afghanistan. ... There is significant concern about whether or not we can be successful. ... It is a free-world responsibility, and the free world ought to participate in a proportional way."

Sen. Kit Bond, R-Missouri:
Obama is "finally doing the right thing. ... (But) announcing a withdrawal date is a little bit like telling people you're going to play the first three quarters of a football game and then you're going to take the first team off the field. I think those decisions need to be made by the commanders on the ground."

Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona:
"Certainly I support the (additional 30,000 troops) but I am very concerned about whether there is a date certain for withdrawal. Success is what causes us to withdraw. You don't want to tell the enemy you're coming and you're leaving."

Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Georgia:
"I am on board with giving Gen. McChrystal exactly what he asked for in terms of more troops." But "I have no idea" what (Obama's thinking is) in establishing a three-year withdrawal timetable. "It's pretty obvious where we're going to be three years from now. We'll be in the middle of another election."

–CNN's Ted Barrett, Dana Bash, Craig Broffman, Lisa Desjardins and Deirdre Walsh contributed to this report.

Filed under: Afghanistan • Congress • Popular Posts • President Obama
soundoff (42 Responses)
  1. LacrosseSon

    Hey, Ms. Harman–the terrorists are OVER THERE. How does surrendering to them make us safer???

    Amazing. Dems think there's actually something more important than preventing more terrorist attacks. Well, not letting North Korea or Iran have nukes, but they're not doing anything about that, either.

    Hey, Dumbocrats–want to know how you pay for Afghanistan? You dump this ill-conceived health care reform!

    December 1, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  2. Joyce Neal

    This was will never end, but if the President has indicated that troop withdrawal will begin in three years, then that is what will happen.

    December 1, 2009 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  3. Paul from Phoenix

    Hmmmm, three years to end the war. Three years....what happens in three years...oh, that's right, there is an election in three years!

    This couldn't be more obvious unless Obama came out and said he was doing it for his 2012 campaign.

    December 1, 2009 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  4. Stu

    Incremental buildups don't always work so well. Send whatever they need to crush the taliban and al qaeda. If that number is 100,000 , then send them.

    December 1, 2009 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  5. JMikey54

    Obama is going in with more troops and he has an exit strategy. Sounds like we have leader who has a good plan.

    December 1, 2009 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  6. Adalbert

    A big mistake.

    December 1, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  7. Tim

    Since they didn't afford Bush the benefit of a pull out based on conditions on the ground, I don't expect them to afford Obama that benefit.

    I want to see all the lefties running around mad. Not mad as in angry, but mad as in dilusional. Like they all were during the Bush years.

    December 1, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  8. Grrr-awful-o

    What a colossally amateurish move for a politician to make: setting a timeline for the end of a war. And I thought George Bush was supposed to be the dumb one! But Obama has given himself a no-win situation. We won't win it in three years – there's no one anywhere who has said they think that will's out of left field. When 3 years is up we leave in defeat and Obama will need to explain to all the mothers of the dead why we stayed 3 more years if it was not winable in 3 years. Unbelievably stupid!

    December 1, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  9. Tim

    We can easily pay for this war by wringing waste out of the Medicare program. In fact, we can pay for everything by wringing the waste out of Medicare.

    The Democrats just need to redefine another word, waste.

    December 1, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  10. RTB

    The Republicans of course are all for any kind of war. What is Obama thinking?
    I am very concerned that this is going to end badly. A bit like the situation LBJ had gotten into and many of the great society programs had to be shelved because of the Vietnam commitment.

    December 1, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  11. Matt Shine

    While I wish we could simply pull out of Iraq and Afganistan, doing so would be a mistake. Iraq is closer, but I think Obama is trying his best to make the rights choices in a situation where there really IS no right choice.

    Now, if the admin got clear word from the Afghan government that they are building their own military and will be able to take over in 2-3 years, that would certainly make his plan more attractive. To promise a pull out without such assurances would be folly.

    December 1, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  12. Anonymous

    I suppose no matter the decision, not all will be happy. That said, the Republicans will want more, Democrats will want less. It is my hope the decision is based on its needs and not based on politics.

    December 1, 2009 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  13. Tommygunn

    I am not in favor of this surge, BUT it always take a DEMOCRAT to FINISH the work of a REPUBLICAN.

    Kind of like the little brother bragging and starting fights knowing the big brother will take up for him.

    Social Security, Medicare, Healthcare and so-on

    December 1, 2009 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  14. Julie

    Give the man a chance! Sad that Congress has to be so critical even before the speech.

    December 1, 2009 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  15. Braveheart

    JUST say NO!!!
    And don't fund the war.

    December 1, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  16. Four and The Door

    There's no question that the 3 year timetable is all about politics rather than operational objectives and success.

    I sure wish our enemy would publish a timetable for their efforts here. It would sure help with our recruiting, planning, strategy development, etc... In essence, it would sure make this whole thing much easier for us! Hey, do you think this will work against us and make it easier for the Taliban?!?! OMG!

    December 1, 2009 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  17. Ruty

    Bring the troops home. That is what Obama promised. Let those war mongers pay for their own war. They are having a civil war and we have no business there. Their government is corrupt to the core. Too much American blood has already been wasted over there.

    December 1, 2009 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
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