The sole congressional vote against going into Afghanistan after 9/11 is trying to put the brakes on any action President Obama wants to take in Iraq.
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) tried attaching amendments to the defense authorization bill that passed the House today.
“Despite support from the American people to end our nation’s perpetual state of war, Congress has not repealed the multiple Authorizations for Use of Military Force that have created the quagmires in Iraq and Afghanistan and amounts to blank check for endless war,” Lee said.
Her first amendment would have blocked any funding for Iraq operations. “President Obama has told the American people there is no military solution in Iraq and he’s right,” she said. “The situation in Iraq requires a political solution that builds a state representative and respectful of the rights for all citizens. It’s an Iraqi crisis that must be solved by Iraqis, not foreign militaries.”
Lee also had separate amendments to block funding for the 2001 and 2002 Authorizations for Use of Military Force.
“An AUMF is a powerful statement from Congress that it’s the will and in the interest of the American people to use force in a foreign country. These types of powerful action cannot remain into perpetuity,” she said. “The American people deserve a voice on whether or not American military force is used in Iraq. Congress cannot continue to offer blank checks for force while the American people have continued to express their desire for peace.”
“In failing to approve this measure, Congress has ignored its Constitutional duty to debate and give the American people a voice on matters of war and peace.”
Lee received support from Reps. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) and Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) to repeal the 2001 AUMF.
She also presented an amendment co-sponsored by Reps. Walt Jones (R-N.C.) and Jim McGovern (D-Wash.) to block funding for Afghanistan operations beyond the end of the year.
“It is clear to all that Congress must debate and approve any extension of military operations in Afghanistan beyond December 2014. After more than a decade of war, they have promised to bring our brave servicemen and women home,” said Lee. “Congress should have made that same promise and restricted future funding for war beyond the end of 2014.”
Some members voted against the final defense bill because they thought the package was just too bloated.
“The Department of Defense’s budget is out of control,” said Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), a member of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog coalition of Democrats. “With a total cost of nearly half a trillion dollars, this legislation makes no serious effort to restructure the Pentagon’s budget to ensure the long-term fiscal health of our military. Instead, it provides an astonishing $80 billion for continuing the war in Afghanistan, despite the fact that troop levels will be drawn down to fewer than 10,000.”
“Absolutely no effort was made in this bill to scale back the purchasing of large weapon systems, and we will continue to fund military bases throughout the world that were designed to fight the wars of the past,” Schrader said. “Instead, we should be focusing on properly funding our VA health system to better care for our wounded warriors who have fought so bravely overseas.”
Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), though, said the measure keeps defense in the forefront by “providing funding for advanced equipment and technology, an across-the-board pay raise for our men and women in uniform and additional resources to help ensure America has a strong and unparalleled military force.”
“In addition to bolstering our defense operations, this bill prohibits funding for the transfer of Guantanamo detainees to the U.S.,” Price added. “The president has not made a compelling case nor shown he has a plan for such a course of action. His most recent release of five Taliban commanders to relative freedom in Qatar raises serious questions about his administration’s judgment in this matter.”