This was a vote on an amendment by Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) that would have required the president to submit to Congress a plan with a timeframe to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan. The amendment would also have required the president to submit a separate report to Congress outlining a plan with a timeframe for concluding negotiations “leading to a political settlement and reconciliation of the internal conflict in Afghanistan.” This amendment was offered to legislation authorizing annual funding for Defense Department programs.
McGovern urged support for his amendment: “Too many people have died in Afghanistan. Since January, I have attended three funerals in my district alone of young men who have sacrificed their lives there. Tens of thousands more have been wounded. And the suicide rate among our veterans from Afghanistan and Iraq is soaring. There is no clear mission. The Karzai government is corrupt. We continue to borrow money to pay for this war. We need to rethink what we're doing in Afghanistan. It's time to define the plan to bring our uniformed men and women home to their families and to their communities, where they belong….this is the longest war in our Nation's history. It's no longer about al Qaeda. I've met with our troops in Afghanistan. I've met with them after they have come home. They are incredible. Politicians put them into harm's way. And we now have an obligation to get them safely home.”
Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) opposed the amendment: “I would certainly agree that we have gone beyond our security objectives in Afghanistan by building the economy that they never had at U.S. taxpayers' expense, by trying to restructure their society, and giving them a government that doesn't reflect the political culture of the country. But at the same time, we have legitimate security objectives in Afghanistan to keep the Taliban out, to keep it from taking over the country, to keep al Qaeda out, and to have a permissive environment in which to conduct strikes into Pakistan at targets such as Osama bin Laden, or al Qaeda and Taliban leaders as they present themselves. But this amendment speaks to an expeditious withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan at a time when we are very far down the path of a current strategy for which the president says that we will already reduce our footprint in Afghanistan this summer, as well as shift operational control to Afghan security forces by 2014. This would pull the rug out under that entire strategy.”
The House rejected this amendment by a vote of 204-215. Voting “yea” were 178 Democrats and 26 Republicans. 207 Republicans and 8 Democrats voted “nay.” As a result, the House rejected an amendment that would have required the president to submit to Congress a plan with a timeframe to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan--and would also have required the president to submit a separate report to Congress outlining a plan with a timeframe for concluding negotiations “leading to a political settlement and reconciliation of the internal conflict in Afghanistan.”