News / USA

    Mixed Congressional Reaction to Obama Afghanistan Plan

    House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio speaks with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, June 23, 2011
    House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio speaks with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, June 23, 2011
    Michael Bowman

    President Barack Obama’s announcement of a gradual drawdown of American forces in Afghanistan is getting mixed reviews from U.S. lawmakers. Reaction from Republican and Democratic leaders is generally positive, but many rank-and-file members of both parties say they are dissatisfied - for widely divergent reasons.

    It is not often that the top Republican on Capitol Hill, House Speaker John Boehner, and Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi agree on anything. But both gave cautious endorsements of the president’s timetable for winding down the war in Afghanistan.

    Speaker Boehner stressed that he does not want to see progress in Afghanistan jeopardized, but added the following.

    “As I understand it, the top brass at the Pentagon are comfortable with the president’s strategy," said Boehner. "And I have said since the president took office that if the president listened to his commanders and his diplomats in the region, that I would support his plan. I am generally supportive of the plan, because there is enough flexibility in the withdrawal to take into consideration conditions on the ground [in Afghanistan].

    Representative Pelosi expressed hope troops can be brought home faster than Obama envisions. But she, too, endorsed the president's announcement.

    “The good news is the president is bringing the war in Afghanistan to an end," she said. "The president, for his reasons, has the timetable he has. I respect that.

    Obama’s timetable for withdrawing troops does not satisfy ardent critics of the war in Afghanistan. Democratic Congressmen Peter DeFazio of Oregon and Keith Ellison of Minnesota say they are disappointed.

    “Twelve to 36 more months of a large U.S. troop footprint is not going to resolve centuries-old conflicts among the Afghan tribes," said DeFazio. "So I disagree with the President’s plan for a snail’s pace, partial drawdown of U.S. troops.”

    “The announcement of troop reductions was welcome, but not nearly ambitious enough," said Ellison. "The president outlined a strategy for reducing the [troop] surge. And I have to believe that we can do much better than removing all the surge troops in 15 months.”

    At the other end of the spectrum are Republican lawmakers who oppose any cuts in troop strength, so long as the security situation in Afghanistan remains perilous.

    House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon said, “I am deeply concerned about the aggressive troop withdrawal proposed by President Obama. The president’s decision could jeopardize the hard-won gains our troops and allies have made over the past 18 months and, potentially, the safety of the remaining forces. This announcement also puts at risk a negotiated settlement with reconcilable elements of the Taliban, who will now believe they can wait out the departure of U.S. forces.”

    McKeon spoke at a hearing featuring testimony by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, who admitted to having initial misgivings about the president’s withdrawal strategy, and stressed that no troop reduction is without risk. But he added that he fully supports the president’s decision.

    “There is no jumping ship [no abandoning the mission] here. Quite the contrary, we will have at our disposal the great bulk of the surge forces through this and most of the next fighting season,” said Mullen.

    Congress overwhelmingly endorsed then-president George W. Bush’s decision to invade Afghanistan after the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. Nearly 10 years later, the American public has soured on the war, as have many legislators. But Congress has consistently funded the U.S. mission in Afghanistan, and shows no inclination to halt that funding or interfere with the president’s conduct of the war.

    You May Like

    Escalation of Media Crackdown in Turkey Heightens Concerns

    Critics see 'a new dark age' as arrests of journalists, closures of media outlets by Erdogan government mount

    Russia Boasts of Troop Buildup on Flank, Draws Flak

    Russian military moves counter to efforts to de-escalate tensions, State Department says

    What Take-out Food Reveals About American History

    From fast-food restaurants to pizza delivery, here's what the history of take-out food tells us about changes in American society

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora