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Barbara Lee: No more U.S. troops to Afghanistan

As Obama Administration officials mull the pros and cons of a increase in the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, has introduced H.R. 3699, which would prohibit funding for any such increase.

“History tells us that there will not be a military-first solution to the situation in Afghanistan, “she said in a news release. “Open-ended military intervention in Afghanistan is not in our national security interest and will only continue to give resonance to insurgent recruiters painting pictures of foreign occupation to a new generation.”

“I applaud the Administration’s decision to conduct a much-needed strategic review of our military presence in Afghanistan,” she continued. “As we consider the possibility of further entrenching United States Armed Forces by sending significantly more brave men and women in uniform into harm’s way, this legislation sends a clear message in opposition to this course of action.”

Among the bill’s 21 original cosponsors are Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont; Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose; and Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma.

Posted on Thursday, October 1st, 2009
Under: Afghanistan, Barbara Lee, Lynn Woolsey, Mike Honda, Pete Stark, U.S. House | 14 Comments »

Your voices on Capitol Hill, speaking

Here’s Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, urging the House today to adopt an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2010 that would call for the Defense Secretary to report to Congress by Dec. 31 a comprehensive exit strategy from the war in Afghanistan:

The amendment later failed on a 138-278 vote: Lee, Pete Stark, George Miller, Jackie Speier, Anna Eshoo, Mike Honda and Lynn Woolsey voted for it; Ellen Tauscher and Jerry McNerney opposed it; and Zoe Lofgren and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi didn’t vote.

Meanwhile, Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough, spent some quality time today grilling Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing:

Posted on Thursday, June 25th, 2009
Under: Afghanistan, Barbara Lee, Jackie Speier, U.S. House | 1 Comment »

How they voted on the war supplemental

As I reported Monday, Bay Area House members were being pressed by anti-war progressives on one side and by President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the other about how to vote on the $106 billion supplemental spending bill for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The House passed the bill late Tuesday on a 226-202 vote. Here’s how the Bay Area delegation voted:

No: Barbara Lee, D-Oakland; Pete Stark, D-Fremont; Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough; Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma; Mike Honda, D-San Jose; Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose

Yes: George Miller, D-Martinez; Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo; Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton; Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto; Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco

The 32 Democrats voting against the bill did so mainly for anti-war reasons, while most of the 170 Republicans who opposed it did so because the bill included more than $5 billion for the International Monetary Fund. The bill passed overwhelmingly last month, but changes in conference committee led to an intense battle to get it through again.

Here’s what Lee had to say about it:

“I cannot support any funding for Iraq that was not dedicated solely for the redeployment of our troops and military contractors. I am also unable to support the open ended military escalation in Afghanistan. We need a better balance between humanitarian and military spending in Afghanistan and we need an exit strategy. The supplemental appropriations bill does not reflect a fundamental shift in direction. Therefore, I cannot support it.”

And here’s what Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said:

“Our men and women in uniform deserve far, far better than to be treated like this. Republicans supported a troop funding bill last month, and we are prepared to do so once again. But this is a politically-motivated stunt that uses troop funding as bait for a global bailout that should be judged on its own merits in its own legislation. Let’s give our troops the resources they need for victory in a real troop funding bill free of a costly global bailout.”

Strange bedfellows indeed.

Some liberal bloggers are singling Miller out for heat, because he’s among Democrats who voted against the war funding last month “when their votes stood no chance of actually blocking the funding” but voted for it Tuesday, as AfterDowningStreet.org’s David Swanson put it. Swanson described this group as “the Hall of Shame. These Congress members voted No for show when it didn’t matter, and voted Yes to fund wars when it came to crunch time.”

Elsewhere, the Down With Tyranny blog called Miller “another progressive who let pressure get to him and has now jumped the fence and is voting for more war.”

Miller, a close political ally of Pelosi, explained his shifting vote to the Chronicle:

“I understand the deep frustrations regarding this bill; I’ve voiced them myself and have consistently voted against the war,” Miller said. “I don’t support the war in Iraq, and I want to bring it to a close. I registered my concern, but now it is time to give President Obama what he believes he needs to make progress. This bill is part of the price of cleaning up the mess of the failed policies from the previous administration.”

It’s worth noting that the progressive community was split on this: Although lots of left-leaning groups opposed the bill, some significant heavyweights – including the Campaign for America’s Future, the Center for American Progress, Democracy for America, Moveon.org, Talking Points Memo, and True Majority – didn’t.

Posted on Wednesday, June 17th, 2009
Under: Afghanistan, Anna Eshoo, Barbara Lee, Ellen Tauscher, George Miller, Iraq, Iraq War, Jackie Speier, Jerry McNerney, John Boehner, Lynn Woolsey, Mike Honda, Nancy Pelosi, Pete Stark, U.S. House, Zoe Lofgren | 2 Comments »

House members pressured on war funding vote

Several Bay Area House members are among targets of a progressive Democratic phone/fax/email lobbying blitz pressuring them to vote against the $100 billion Iraq/Afghanistan/Pakistan war supplemental spending bill, even as the Obama Administration and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi try to whip votes into line for it. From Democrats.com:

All 178 House Republicans plan to vote against the $100 billion Iraq/AfPak War Supplemental to protest $5 billion for the International Monetary Fund. That means 39 Democratic opponents could defeat the bill. 34 Democrats on the right promised to vote no, so we only need 5 more.

On May 14, 51 Democrats voted no and 4 Democrats were absent. Most were Progressives who oppose the war funding, but a few were Bluedogs who want to cut unnecessary spending.

Reps. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland; Pete Stark, D-Fremont; and Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, already are on the list of lawmakers who’ve vowed to vote against the bill. Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough, is on the “voted with us on May 14 and still with us as far as we know” list, but I guess they can move her onto the sure-thing list with Lee, Stark and Woolsey now, based on the statement she sent me a few minutes ago:

“I voted against the Iraq/Afghanistan supplemental last month because I have serious problems with the current wars and do not believe that escalating the conflicts make America or the world safer.

“Increased military operations, with the inevitable civilian casualties, only inflame local resistance and increase the number and severity of violent attacks.

“While other items are included in the supplemental – many of which I support – this is, foremost, a vote for or against funding the wars. For that reason, I will again vote no when it comes to the floor.”

Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, and Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, were listed the same as Speier; I haven’t heard back from either of their offices yet.

Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, is listed among those who “voted with us on May 14 but now oppose us.” And Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, is listed among the unknowns; his spokeswoman, Sarah Hersh, said McNerney “has received a similar number of calls, emails and faxes on this subject as compared to other major issues. Of those who have contacted his office, there’s about equal support and opposition. The Congressman looks forward to hearing from his constituents on this and other issues.”

Posted on Monday, June 15th, 2009
Under: Afghanistan, Barbara Lee, George Miller, Iraq, Iraq War, Jackie Speier, Jerry McNerney, Lynn Woolsey, Mike Honda, Pete Stark, U.S. House, Zoe Lofgren | 4 Comments »

Actors join Move America Forward’s ‘Troopathon’

Celebs continue gravitating to the June 25 “Troopathon” conceived by the Sacramento-based, grassroots conservative Move America Forward to send the largest-ever shipment of care packages to U.S. troops serving overseas.

The organization announced Monday that actors Kelsey Grammer and Gary Sinise have joined others including talk radio hosts Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham and Mark Levin; former Vice President Dick Cheney, actor Jon Voight, and columnist/blogger Michelle Malkin on the lineup for the “Honor Their Service” event.

Both Grammer and Sinise “have displayed a long history of support for our troops. They have been active with the USO throughout the years and their participation in our telethon is further example of what great patriots these two men are,” said Bay Area-based former talk radio host Melanie Morgan, chairwoman of Move America Forward and co-host of this event. “We are honored to have them on our Troopathon.”

The other co-host will be Andrew Breitbart of Breitbart.TV and the “Big Hollywood” blog. During the eight-hour internet, radio and television live broadcast from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, viewers will be encouraged to sponsor care packages for the troops as the guests and hosts discuss various topics related to supporting our troops. Last year’s Troopathon saw viewers donate more than $1.5 million for care packages for the troops.

Posted on Monday, June 8th, 2009
Under: Afghanistan, Iraq War | 2 Comments »

GOP backs Obama’s Afghanistan/Pakistan plan

House Republicans have introduced a pair of bills in support of President Barack Obama’s strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“President Obama has outlined a responsible strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and he deserves support from Democrats and Republicans in Congress as our troops, intelligence professionals, diplomatic officials, and allies work to ensure security in the region,” said House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio. “Today, House Republicans are introducing legislation reflecting and authorizing the Commander-in-Chief’s plan. Importantly, this legislation does not include arbitrary congressionally-mandated benchmarks that tie the hands of our generals and diplomatic officials on the ground as they work to stabilize a part of the world that is vital to our national security. At the same time, it fully authorizes the funding levels requested by the President for each country, while requiring that he submit a specific implementation plan to measure progress and help ensure his strategy’s success.”

Boehner praised representatives Jerry Lewis, R-Redlands; Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla.; John McHugh, R-N.Y.; Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich.; and Peter King, R-N.Y. for shaping the bills. “We urge swift bipartisan passage of the measures to make certain those responsible for carrying out the President’s strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan have the resources they need to get the job done.”

Specifically, the bills would support the President’s strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan that he outlined on March 27; authorize the money he wants for Afghanistan; authorize $1.5 billion a year in foreign assistance aid to Pakistan, as well as the President’s request for $700 million for the Pakistan Counterinsurgency Capability Fund; require the President to submit to Congress a comprehensive plan to implement his strategy for long-term security and stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan “that includes measures of effectiveness;” and require the Administration, including the departments of Defense and State, to regularly brief and notify Congress on the implementation of the President’s strategy.

Meanwhile, some liberal Bay Area House members still aren’t convinced Obama’s on the right track.

(T)he administration’s supplemental request does not adequately reflect these diplomatic and humanitarian priorities — priorities that we believe are essential to success for U.S. security interests,” Reps. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland; Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma; and Maxine Waters, D-Los Angeles, recently wrote for the Politico. “In fact, 90 percent of the supplemental request would go toward funding ongoing and increased military operations. The remaining $7 billion would be divided between humanitarian, civil affairs, reconstruction and diplomatic efforts in the region.”

“The United States must reorient our national security policy in the region and maximize what the Obama administration has called our nation’s “smart power.” At the heart of this strategy must be a regional diplomatic surge that engages all of Afghanistan’s neighbors as full partners in aiding the Afghan people and strengthening its central government.”

Posted on Wednesday, May 20th, 2009
Under: Afghanistan, Barbara Lee, John Boehner, Lynn Woolsey, U.S. House | No Comments »

Most local lawmakers oppose war spending bill

The House of Representatives this afternoon passed the 2009 Supplemental Appropriations Act – $96.7 billion in military spending, mostly in Iraq and Afghanistan, through Sept. 30 – on a 368-60 vote; the U.S. Senate continues working on its own version.

Most Bay Area House members, unsurprisingly, opposed it: Barbara Lee, D-Oakland; George Miller, D-Martinez; Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough; Mike Honda, D-San Jose; Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose; and Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma. Voting for the bill were Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo; Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton; and Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, while Pete Stark, D-Fremont, was absent.

I spoke a few minutes ago with McNerney, who said that as far as Iraq goes, he supports the additional funding so long as President Obama follows through with his timeline for drawing down troops there.

Afghanistan, McNerney said, is “a little bit more complicated, a little more difficult – I’m very concerned about what’s happening over there. … The president has a good team over there and I want to see him have an opportunity to carry out an acceptable outcome.”

More commentary, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, May 14th, 2009
Under: Afghanistan, Anna Eshoo, Barbara Lee, Ellen Tauscher, General, George Miller, Iraq, Jackie Speier, Jerry McNerney, John Boehner, Lynn Woolsey, Mike Honda, Pete Stark, U.S. House, Zoe Lofgren | No Comments »

Barbara Lee/Obama honeymoon over?

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, had this to say today, more than a week after the Obama Administration asked Congress for $83.4 billion to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan:

“I applaud President Obama for moving forward to address the difficult situations in Iraq and Afghanistan which he inherited from the Bush Administration.

“As the only Member of Congress to vote against the resolution authorizing the use of military force on September 14, 2001, I believe now as I did then that the resolution gave a blank check for military action not only in Afghanistan but throughout the world in the Bush Administration’s so called ‘war on terror’, and that there is no military solution in Afghanistan.

“Military escalation, which places our brave troops in harm’s way, will be counterproductive to the goal of creating a more stable country. A new direction which places greater emphasis on — and devotes substantially more financial and human resources to — regional and international cooperation, humanitarian and development assistance, and non proliferation efforts is needed.

“With regard to funding for the occupation of Iraq, I have consistently worked on a bipartisan basis to ensure that no permanent bases be built in Iraq and have stated that I will only support fully funding the safe and timely redeployment of our troops and contractors out of Iraq.”

Remember, Lee was an early, ardent supporter of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign; her disappointment at having to issue this news release is almost palpable.

Posted on Friday, April 17th, 2009
Under: Afghanistan, Barack Obama, Barbara Lee, Iraq, U.S. House | 4 Comments »

Local lawmakers meet with Obama on Afghanistan

Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco; Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto; and other House members met today with President Barack Obama to discuss recent developments in Afghanistan and nearby nations.

Miller has been to Afghanistan three times including twice in the last month, most recently with Pelosi and Eshoo as part of a congressional delegation that met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, U.S. military commanders and troops.

“Seven years ago, President Bush had Osama Bin Laden and al Qaeda cornered in Afghanistan, only to take his eye off the ball and pursue an unjustified and costly war in Iraq,” Miller said in a statement issued today. “Since then, violence in Afghanistan has risen, the Taliban has reemerged, opium production has skyrocketed, corruption and incompetence have reigned supreme in the Afghan government, and all of this is threatening to spill over the border and destabilize a nuclear-armed Pakistan.”

“I’ve recently returned from my third trip to Afghanistan and was pleased to have the opportunity to share my impressions and experiences with the President today as he seeks to chart a new course for US policy in the region. I discussed with President Obama my belief that before an already unstable situation in Afghanistan becomes worse, we’ve got to change course now. It is very clear that to be successful, America needs the help of neighbors in the region – India, Pakistan, China, and Russia. That’s why I applaud President Obama’s decision to conduct a top to bottom review of our strategy in Afghanistan and his appointment of Ambassador Richard Holbrooke as special envoy to the region.”

Click here for Pelosi’s rundown of the most recent trip to Afghanistan, from a Feb. 23 news conference.

Posted on Wednesday, March 4th, 2009
Under: Afghanistan, Barack Obama, George Miller, Nancy Pelosi, U.S. House, War on Terror | No Comments »

Tauscher to re-introduce ‘dwell time’ bill

Continuing the “it’s-a-whole-new-ballgame-with-Obama-in-the-White-House” waltz, Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo, this Thursday will announce she’s introducing legislation to provide more “dwell time” for troops deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, to help them recover mentally and physically and give military units time to repair and upgrade equipment.

The House in August 2007 passed Tauscher’s like-minded H.R. 3159. It would’ve required that any regular Armed Forces member or unit deployed to Iraq must then have an equal period of time at home before being redeployed, and that no unit or member of a Reserve component including the National Guard be redeployed to Iraq within three years of their previous deployment.

But Tauscher’s bill died in the Senate Armed Services Committee, and its companion amendment introduced by U.S. Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., went down to defeat in September 2007, soon after Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he would recommend a veto, branding it a dangerous “backdoor way” to draw down forces.

Why am I reliving all this history? Well, partly because Gates is still our Secretary of Defense; it’ll be interesting to see what he recommends now, given he’s serving a new President with a new agenda for Iraq and Afghanistan.

Posted on Tuesday, February 10th, 2009
Under: Afghanistan, Ellen Tauscher, General, Iraq, U.S. House, War on Terror | No Comments »