House rejects resolution to pull U.S. forces from Afghanistan
March 17th, 2011
07:01 PM ET
12 years ago

House rejects resolution to pull U.S. forces from Afghanistan

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The House Thursday decisively rejected a resolution directing the president to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan this year, but the vote also showed a deep divide in the president's own party on the war.

The final vote tally was 321 to 93, with 85 Democrats supporting the proposal.

The resolution to draw down all troops by the end of 2011, introduced by Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, is not the congressman's first effort to end U.S. involvement in the war. But this year it gained more Democratic support, as many in the party voiced their deep concern with the costly and difficult struggle.

Eight Republicans joined Democrats in supporting the measure, some citing the need for fiscal discipline, others saying military energy should be directed at greater threats.

Several Democrats, who have spent weeks fending off Republican budget cuts, said their colleagues had overlooked the Afghanistan conflict. Kucinich appealed to conservatives on fiscal grounds during debate Thursday.

"If Congress is serious about being fiscally responsible and about cutting the federal budget by three figures, then cutting spending on the out-of-control, $100-billion-a-year war in Afghanistan must be a serious consideration," Kucinich exhorted fellow members.

"When you guys say 'deficit' and 'debt', we're going to say 'Afghanistan,'" said Rep. Bob Filner, D-California, gesturing towards his Republican colleagues.

Rep. John Duncan, R-Texas, agreed, and supported the proposal.

"There's nothing fiscally conservative about this war, and I think conservatives should be the people most horrified by this war," he said. "We turned the Department of Defense into the department of foreign aid."

Public support for the war is dismal, a fact acknowledged by members on both sides and one which military leaders sought to appease in hearings on Capitol Hill this week.

In testimony before the House Armed Services Committee Wednesday, Gen. David Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, described seeing progress since taking over operations in the country last June. Petraeus told lawmakers many regions are safer and Afghan troops and law enforcement are taking on a larger role in patrolling the country.

He added that the speedy drawdown advocated in the Kucinich bill would undermine U.S. national security interests.

"The Taliban and al Qaida obviously would trumpet this as a victory, as a success," he said. "Needless to say, it would completely undermine everything that our troops have fought so much for and sacrificed so much for."

The defense department expects to transition control of security for the country to Afghan forces by December 2014. Petraeus said he would likely recommend some combat forces be included in the drawdown of U.S. forces from Afghanistan in July.

Republican Jason Chaffetz of Utah choked up on the House floor as he read aloud a list of his constituents who had died while serving in the conflict.

"As I've talked to each of their parents, they want those rules of engagement changed, and they want to end this war in Afghanistan - with victory," he said haltingly.

Chaffetz, who supported the bill, took on fellow Republicans like Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Florida, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, over the definition of victory in the conflict. Ros-Lehtinen charged "to withdraw from Afghanistan at this point, before we finish the job, is to pave the way for another 9/11."

"I reject the notion that bringing our troops home at some point - which I consider a victory - is somehow a pathway or paving a pathway to another 9/11," Chaffetz responded. "I think that's offensive. I think that's inaccurate."

The few GOP supporters of the bill were far outnumbered by Republicans who said withdrawal would be disastrous.

"I think my colleagues know that I'm very uncomfortable spending taxpayer dollars without a solid justification, and I match my fiscal conservative credentials with anybody in this body," said Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio. "But when it comes to national security and when it comes to the care and protection of our troops in harm's way, we must not be … penny wise and pound foolish."

Filed under: Afghanistan • Congress
soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Mah

    Afghanistan is not a national security issue, at least not to the extent that we're funding it to be so.

    March 17, 2011 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  2. Proud member of "Global Zero"

    I am ready to bring them home but, I guess we have to wait for July. ENOUGH WARS.

    March 17, 2011 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  3. one voice

    The GOP want NEVER ENDING WARS so that they can continue to get KICKBACKS from the Industrial Complex through Their NO BID CONTRACTS.

    March 17, 2011 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  4. w l jones

    People are people all over the world If we leave on a good will note why not leave with good felling on both side.

    March 17, 2011 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  5. Tom

    You want answers as to why these were "skipped" by fiscally conservative Republicans, here are some. Lockheed-Martin, Raytheon, United Technologies, Northrup Grumman, Boeing...The only voices the Republicans really listen to.

    March 17, 2011 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  6. David Sims

    Definitely we should win the war and come back home.
    I really don't want another 9-11 attack. We better lose 500 troops killing all the terrorists.

    If we just come back, another 9-11 attack will kill 50,000 in just one day. so we better come back when the job is 100% DONE !!!

    P.S: USA should be really worried about Pakistan and Iran, those are the 2 main countries who are sending terrorists into Afghanistan. All terrorists are Trained in Pakistan and Iran. i don't think a single Terrorist is trained in Afghanistan. 60% terrorists are trained in pakistan and 40% in Iran.

    March 17, 2011 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  7. DorisV

    Good to hear that some republicans see the error of the continuance of this war in Afghanistan. We will never get a "victory" in this area. This will be Obama's Vietnam. Sure hope Obama gets the message that most Americans are sick of wasting our money and the lives of our men and women in this backward country.

    March 17, 2011 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  8. Mike

    And General Petraus, When the U.S.pulls a Russia over the war in Afghanistan and Iraq what do you think Al Qaida and the Taliban will see it as?

    March 17, 2011 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  9. EddyL

    No surpirise.... GOP makes a lot of money for rich Americans from WARS

    March 17, 2011 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  10. Nick84

    How long should we hang around? Ten more years? Quarter of a century? If we haven't 'won' it yet, we ain't gonna!

    March 17, 2011 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  11. 4merRepubCT

    Yep, rebuild Afghanistan, tear down U.S. middle class.......makes sense in that Republicany-twilight zone sorta way.

    March 17, 2011 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |

    This vote shows that when the good of the nation is at stake Obama can count on solid Republican support. Indeed, the Republicans supported Obama far more strongly than his own party. Democrats can always be counted on to spend more money, raise taxes, and vote against the military and the security of the nation, even when its their own President asking for their support!!!!

    March 17, 2011 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |