Lawmakers’ Afghanistan budget cuts rejected

The House of Representatives today rejected Bay Area lawmakers’ attempts to cut the purse strings for the war in Afghanistan.

The House voted 133-295 on an amendment to the Defense Appropriations Act by Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, that would’ve reduced U.S. troops in Afghanistan to 25,000 by next year’s end and saved taxpayers an estimated $25 billion in fiscal year 2012.

President Obama last month announced he plans to pull 10,000 U.S. troops out of Afghanistan this year and 23,000 more by next summer. That would leave about 70,000 troops in Afghanistan as of next summer, more than twice the number serving there when he took office in 2009, with more withdrawals through 2014.

“Our brave men and women are doing tremendous work, but they’re on the wrong mission in Afghanistan. We need to focus on Al Qaeda like a laser wherever they propagate, yes in Afghanistan, but also in Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, and even the United States,” Garamendi, an Armed Services Committee member, said in his news release today. “Our overextended troops and their overstressed families deserve a rapid drawdown from Afghanistan so that they can continue their lives without the constant threat of tragedy inherent in engaging in a five-sided 33-year-old Afghan civil war.”

Garamendi had advocated for the amendment on during a floor debate yesterday:

An amendment by Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland – with original cosponsors including Pete Stark, D-Fremont; Mike Honda, D-San Jose; and Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, as well as several Republicans – would’ve cut $33 billion to leave only “sufficient funds for the orderly withdrawal of combat forces and contractors from Afghanistan.” The House voted 97-322 on that one.

And another Lee amendment would’ve zeroed out the $5 billion Overseas Contingency Operations Transfer Fund, which Lee last month called a Pentagon “slush fund.” That one failed on a 114-314 vote.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • RR, Senile Columnist

    Once again, Barbara Lee Speaks For Me offers jive amendments that only demonstrate news of the Cold War’s end hasn’t reached Berkeley. There’s a new enemy out there that loves timetables and mixed messages, and our guys and gals are too happy to oblige. Rep. Woolsey should remember the clerk who wouldn’t be missed telling the boss he’d be quitting in two weeks. “Why two weeks?” said the boss. “There’s no time better than the present.” Rep. Garamendi, worried over our “overextended” forces, then rattles off Yemen, what’s left of Somalia, and “even the United States” as if these very different theaters have identical requirements. California starts trends; this one could be called mushy thinking.

  • Patty O’Day

    We are making progress in Afghanistan, but there is still so much more we need to do. We should not cut and run until the job is done.

  • For Liberty

    Re #2:

    The same goes with Japan, Germany, Korea and Vietnam. Look at the years that have gone by since those conflicts in these countries and we (U.S.) are still there. Afghanistan and Iraq are now added to the list. My guess is that Libya will be next.

  • Elwood

    We’re still in Vietnam?

    This must come as a great surprise to the Vietnamese!

  • John W

    Re #2 Patty O’Day

    “the job” and “done” — please define.

    “cut and run” — catchy slogan from 2004 campaign used against him who didn’t by thems that did.

    We blew it after Charlie Wilson’s War. We blew it again when we redeployed from Afghan to Iraq. Yes, some reported progress; but will it ever be self-sustainable in that fundamentally tribal world?

    Anyway, I assume that, as a supporter of the war and probably an opponent of deficits, you would support a special war tax to pay for continuing ops, for debt incurred to date and for long-term care of the wounded. Those serving or who have served, or who have sons, daughters, fathers, mothers serving would be exempted. Sound righteous to you?

  • Doug

    We don’t have politicians promulgating war for a reason, John G.

  • Patty O’Day

    #5 – I am not a supporter of the war. I support the troops and their mission. I don’t know, I never thought about a “war tax”, but I think it might be similar to a “war bond” and I would be supportive of that. I believe that our troops and veterans should be cared for properly. Period. I don’t care what party is in power. Our military should be taken care of.

    Of course, since I did serve, and I am a veteran, I guess you are saying that I would be exempt. That sounds pretty righteous.

  • John W

    Re: #7 Patty O’Day,

    If you served in Iraq or Afghanistan, a big shout out and thank you; and, yes, you would be exempt. If you served in another time and place, as I and probably some others on this blog did, then you pay. But it won’t happen. Because (1) as far as I know, nobody other than me has proposed it; and (2) the Repubs don’t believe in taxing to pay for what we spend.

  • Patty O’Day

    Ha Ha. Are you asking me how old I am? You know you never ask a woman how old she is.

    And, by the way, Republicans don’t believe in spending more than we can pay for.

  • John W

    Re #9 Patty O’Day

    Ha ha, yourself. Didn’t ask and don’t care. For all I know, your real name might be Patrick. However, that expression about asking a woman her age is not one commonly used by anybody born after 1960.

    As for the bit about Republicans, I did not assert that they believe in “spending more than we can pay for.” I said they “don’t believe in taxing to pay for what we spend.”

    Proof is in the puddin’.

    President Reagan cut tax rates from ridiculously high to ridiculously low while ramping up Defense spending, thereby creating more debt than all previous presidents combined. President Bush 43 cut taxes while ramping up post-9/11 national security spending, starting the war in Iraq and passing the trillion dollar unfunded prescription drug program, thus adding another $5 trillion to the debt, even while the real estate bubble economy was strong. And, now, they won’t raise taxes even one cent on anybody or even slightly reduce $1 trillion in annual tax preferences known as “tax expenditures” as part of a possible $4 trillion “grand bargain” to get the debt under control, even when Obama is willing to take heat from fellow Democrats for taking on entitlements.

    They won’t even agree that hedge fund managers should pay ordinary income tax rates (rather than capital gains) on the millions in annual pay they receive for investing other people’s (not their own) money. Joe the car salesman making $60k in commissions pays 25% marginal tax plus 7.65% for his share of payroll taxes, but Harry the hedge fund manager pays only 15% for the millions in commissions he receives on the capital gains he generates for his clients, using their money at risk, not his own.

    Taxes as a percentage of national income are at a 60-year low. But, noooo, revenue can’t be even a small part of the deficit and debt solution! So, like I said…

    So, how old are you? Just kidding.