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

Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving

Feasts centering on turkeys with an array of traditional sides and desserts are part of the holiday's traditions, which falls on the fourth Thursday in November More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

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.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid