H.Con.Res. 248, legislation by Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, that would order the President to remove U.S. troops from Afghanistan, failed today on a 65-356 vote after more than three and a half hours of debate.
Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland; Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont; and Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma were among the legislation’s 19 co-sponsors. They were joined by Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, and Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough, in voting for it today.
“Despite the wishes of the people who voted him into office, President Obama is escalating the War in Afghanistan. It’s now up to Congress to end the war. This resolution would invoke the War Powers Resolution of 1973, and remove troops from Afghanistan no later than the end of the year.
“This war has no clear objective. We have spent $258 billion on the War in Afghanistan, with billions more to come this year. American soldiers and their families are paying a greater price. Over 1,000 soldiers have died, and over 5,000 have been wounded in action. According to the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, Human Rights Watch, and other humanitarian organizations, tens of thousands of Afghan civilians have been killed.
“It is time for Congress to assert its constitutional authority over matters of war and bring our troops home. I urge my colleagues to join us in support of this resolution. War will never stabilize Afghanistan. We must turn to diplomacy and infrastructure development to achieve stability in Afghanistan.”
“We need to move in a new direction in Afghanistan. Today, I again registered my opposition to the current US policy in Afghanistan by voting for Mr. Kucinich’s war powers resolution. While we know it isn’t feasible for American troops to leave Afghanistan in the time allotted in the resolution, by voting for it I am sending a clear message to President Obama and my colleagues that we need to move in a new direction in Afghanistan.”
Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, issued a statement saying she had voted against the resolution “with a heavy heart.” See her full explanation after the jump…
“I have serious reservations about the presence of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan. I opposed the President’s plan to send additional troops into that country, and I opposed funding for the surge. I was reassured when the President said that he wanted to begin withdrawing U.S. troops beginning in 2011. I joined 137 of my colleagues to vote with Representative McGovern to demand that the President provide a plan for withdrawing from Afghanistan, and have been deeply concerned that the mission for our troops there is not clear. If their mission is not well defined, how can we expect to judge success?
“I do not support an open-ended commitment without clear goals. But I also cannot support a sudden withdrawal without a plan to protect American lives and American interests. And that’s why I will vote against this Resolution.
“This Resolution directs the President to remove all U.S. forces from Afghanistan 30 days from adoption, unless the President decides it is not safe to do so. He would then have until the end of 2010 to remove all U.S. forces from Afghanistan.
“This language is absolute and provides no exceptions.
“It does not provide exceptions for U.S. forces that might be necessary to safeguard U.S. embassy personnel.
“It does not provide exceptions for our intelligence community or Special Forces so they can continue to support Afghanistan and Pakistan in the search for al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.
“It does not provide exceptions for U.S. military personnel who are engaged in training the Afghanistan National Army or Afghanistan National Police to provide their own security.
“We should not be involved in a civil war in Afghanistan, but there are a few, limited missions in Afghanistan that may be necessary to protect our national interests. This Resolution does not allow us any flexibility to address those missions, and this is why I cannot support a policy that endangers the lives of U.S. personnel on the ground and allow Al Qaeda to continue to destabilize the border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and potentially strike us here at home.
“I hope Representative Kucinich will refine his legislation and work with the President to present us with a plan to bring our troops home safely and in a timely manner.”
UPDATE @ 4:15 P.M.: Here’s what Lee had to say…