This was a vote on an amendment by Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) that would have cut $4 billion from U.S. funds for Afghan security forces. This amendment was offered to legislation providing annual funding for Defense Department programs.
Cohen urged support for his amendment: “This would reduce the funds we are giving to the Afghanistan security forces by $4 billion. It wouldn't take all of it. It would keep two-thirds--they would still have two-thirds.…The $12.8 billion that is currently allocated to this fund is nearly equivalent to the entire GDP of Afghanistan. Their GDP is $14 billion to $16 billion. Let's understand this, Mr. Chairman: We are giving the Afghanistan people their entire GDP, and we're borrowing it from China and other places. This makes no sense. We need to go after the big whale. Six times the total annual revenue of the Afghan Government--which is approximately $1.5 billion--is what we're giving them. I understand these funds are to be used to provide assistance to the security forces of Afghanistan, including training and providing equipment, supplies, and services. Well, I have seen soldiers killed over there, my constituents that were killed by Afghanistan soldiers that we trained. We don't know which ones are Taliban and which ones are going to turn on us, and we're training them and giving them weapons.”
Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) opposed Cohen’s amendment: “…As we speak, our marines, soldiers, sailors, and airmen are fighting for freedom in some of the toughest places imaginable. A vote for this resolution is a vote to pull the support out from under our troops and to leave a legacy of failure in Afghanistan. I urge against supporting this amendment….What this amendment, in fact, does, though, is cuts off funding for the development of Afghan security forces. Our entire exit strategy is based on developing Afghan security forces so that they are strong enough to allow us to pull our forces out to complete a transition whereby they assume operational control by 2014.”
The House rejected Cohen’s amendment by a vote of 119-306. Voting “yea” were 90 Democrats—including a majority of progressives—and 29 Republicans. 207 Republicans and 99 Democrats voted “nay.” As a result, the House rejected an amendment that would have cut $4 billion from U.S. funds for Afghan security forces.