Grum­bling over Afghanistan war grows as House ap­proves fund­ing

Austin American-Statesman - - WORLD & NATION - By Perry Ba­con Jr.

WASHINGTON — Democrats in the U.S. House be­grudg­ingly ap­proved an ad­di­tional $37 bil­lion late Thurs­day to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as a grow­ing num­ber of mem­bers of Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s own party doubt his strat­egy in Afghanistan.

The war fund­ing bill, which passed by a vote of 215-210, would al­lo­cate money for equip­ment and sup­port to troops in both coun­tries, in­clud­ing the ad­di­tional 30,000 troops Obama or­dered de­ployed to Afghanistan in De­cem­ber. The Se­nate must still ap­prove the leg­is­la­tion.

But the fight to push the bill through the House il­lus­trated the wide­spread doubts about the war pol­icy among Democrats, even as they backed Obama’s se­lec­tion of Gen. David Pe­traeus last week to com­mand the troops in Afghanistan. Aware of the op­po­si­tion of some mem­bers, House Demo­cratic lead­ers had stalled for weeks on sched­ul­ing a troop fund­ing vote.

And be­fore they ap­proved the war fund­ing, a block of Democrats in­sisted on hold­ing votes on a se­ries of mea­sures to show their dis­ap­proval of the war.

One hun­dred fifty-three House Democrats and nine Repub­li­cans voted for an amend­ment, spon­sored by Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., that would re­quire Obama to pres- ent a plan by next April for the “safe, or­derly and ex­pe­di­tious re­de­ploy­ment of U.S. troops” and al­low a vote in Congress to stop war fund­ing if with­drawal doesn’t start by next July, the time ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials have said they will start re­duc­ing forces in Afghanistan.

Ninety-three Democrats, along with seven Repub­li­cans, backed an even more re­stric­tive amend­ment from Rep. Bar­bara Lee, D-Calif., that would al­low the war funds to be spent only on with­draw­ing troops from Afghanistan.

Nei­ther amend­ment passed, be­cause nearly all Repub­li­cans op­posed them, along with many Democrats. But Ap­pro­pri­a­tions Com­mit­tee Chair­man David Obey, D-Wis., in­di­cated that he thought the Afghan war is un­winnable.

“If I had my way, I would never bring this to the floor,” Obey said. “I be­lieve this is a fool’s er­rand.”

House Ma­jor­ity Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., who op­posed the amend­ments, said of Obama that “we need to give him more time.” But Hoyer added of the war, “there is a grow­ing level of con­cern — the vote re­flected it.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.