We’ve seen growing opposition to the war in Afghanistan in Congress this year, with record numbers of representatives and senators speaking out in favor of withdrawal. Many members of Congress used the 10th anniversary of the war to reiterate their call for a quicker withdrawal, showing that Congress is not going to keep quiet on this issue despite the president’s claims that he is winding down the war.
Here’s a roundup of just some of the strong statements that came out last week:
Rep. John Garamendi, in a Sacramento Bee op-ed:
As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, and as a representative of thousands of service members, military families and veterans, I am entrusted with weighing in on decisions that have a profound impact on the security of our nation, and on the men and women who risk their lives every day to ensure that security.
As we mark the 10th anniversary of the longest war in America’s history, we believe it is time for Congress to ask some serious questions about our military engagement in Afghanistan.
Minnesota Rep. Betty McCollum, a member of the Appropriations and Budget committees, said:
The people of Afghanistan and their leaders must be prepared to take on the task of providing security, governance, and economic opportunity for their own fellow citizens. I would like to see the 90,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan come home and new Afghan leadership building their own country’s future. Ten years is enough — it is time to end the war in Afghanistan.
Rep. Jackie Speier offered 10 reasons to bring our troops home from Afghanistan for the 10th anniversary:
1. Cost: Taxpayers have spent more than $454 billion on the war in Afghanistan. That is enough to pay for the president’s jobs plan. 2. Economy: Our economy is still struggling because of high unemployment. The $130 billion a year that has been spent on wars in the last decade could have created 936,000 education jobs, 780,000 health care jobs, and 364,000 construction jobs. The unemployment rate for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is 11.7 percent.
Montana Sen. Max Baucus, a member of the deficit super committee, honored his constituents who died in the war and called for bringing our troops home:
It is time to bring our troops home and turn our focus on investing in America, rather than nation building in Afghanistan. For ten years, our troops and their families have bravely shouldered the burden of military action in Afghanistan. Montanans have volunteered for service at greater rates than nearly anywhere else in the country. On this anniversary, may we honor the nine Montanans who have died in Afghanistan and offer our gratitude and ongoing support to the 50 Montana troops who have been wounded in the war.
The co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Reps. Raul Grijalva and Keith Ellison, issued a joint statement:
After ten years of war in Afghanistan, we must bring our troops home and reinvest in America. The economic and human costs in Afghanistan are far too high and we are crippling our ability to recover from a deep recession.”
The cost of this war and its share of the federal deficit continue to rise. Americans have invested $460 billion in Afghanistan, and day-to-day life in many regions has yet to improve. At the same time, more Americans live in poverty, desperately searching for a good job and a living wage. It’s time to stop taking the war for granted, think hard about our priorities, and bring our troops home.
Rep. Pete Stark laid out his opposition to the war on the Huffington Post:
Perhaps now that Washington is obsessed with deficit reduction, we will finally stop spending lives, money and diplomatic capital on senseless and immoral wars. There is no way to responsibly reduce the deficit without ending the war in Afghanistan.
We don’t want to commemorate an 11th anniversary in Afghanistan. For both moral and fiscal reasons, the U.S. must change course and set a clear exit strategy to ensure we bring our troops home.
New member Rep. Janice Hahn held a press conference at Arlington West, a memorial to fallen soldiers, and release a statement:
After ten years of struggle and sacrifice, we have successfully crippled Al Qaeda’s ability to attack the United States and finally put an end to Osama bin Laden. Now, it is time to end this war as well. We are simply losing too many lives and spending too many resources abroad. We cannot afford to spend $190 million on this war each day—over $444 billion dollars since the war began. We need to focus the talents of our young men and women on rebuilding America’s infrastructure and putting Americans back to work. I applaud the President for moving to bring our young people home by 2014, but I urge him to bring them home even quicker. Today, we need heroes at home as much as we’ve needed them in Afghanistan