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

Video In Ukraine's Nikishino, No House Untouched by Fighting

Ninety percent of homes in one small village were damaged or destroyed as government forces failed to stop a rebel advance More

Pakistan’s 'Last Self-Declared Jew' Attacked, Detained

Argument about the rights of non-Muslims in Pakistan allegedly results in mob beating well-known Jewish Pakistani More

Turkey Cracks Down on Political Dissent, Again

People daring to engage in political dissent ahead of upcoming general elections could find themselves in jail 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.
In Their Own Words: Citizens of Kobanii
X
Mahmoud Bali
March 06, 2015 8:43 PM
Civilians are slowly returning to Kobani, after Kurdish fighters backed by coalition airstrikes fought off a four-month siege of the northern Syrian town by Islamic State militants. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Mahmoud Bali talked to some of those who have returned. We hear about the devastation of Kobani through their own words.
Video

Video In Their Own Words: Citizens of Kobani

Civilians are slowly returning to Kobani, after Kurdish fighters backed by coalition airstrikes fought off a four-month siege of the northern Syrian town by Islamic State militants. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Mahmoud Bali talked to some of those who have returned. We hear about the devastation of Kobani through their own words.
Video

Video In Ukraine's Nikishino, No House Untouched by Fighting

In the village of Nikishino, in eastern Ukraine, recent fighting has brought utter devastation. Ninety percent of the houses are damaged or destroyed after government forces tried and failed to stop rebels advancing on the strategically important town of Debaltseve nearby. Patrick Wells reports for VOA from Nikishino.
Video

Video Crime Scenes Re-Created in 3-D Visualization

Police and prosecutors sometimes resort to re-creations of crime scenes in order to better understand the interaction of all participants in complicated cases. A Swiss institute says advanced virtual reality technology can be used for quality re-creations of events at the moment of the crime. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Sierra Leone Ebola Orphans Face Another Crisis

There's growing concern about the future of an orphanage run by a British charity in Sierra Leone, after a staff member and his wife died this week from Ebola. The Saint George Foundation Orphanage in Freetown is now in quarantine, with more than 20 children and seven staff in lock-down. The BBC has agreed to share Ebola-related material with Voice of America because of the difficulties faced by media organizations reporting the crisis. Clive Myrie reports from Sierra Leone.
Video

Video Growing Concerns Over Whether Myanmar’s Next Elections Will Be Fair

Myanmar has scheduled national elections for November that are also expected to include a landmark referendum on the country's constitution. But there are growing concerns over whether the government is taking the necessary steps to prepare for a free and fair vote. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman was recently in Myanmar and files this report from our Southeast Asia bureau in Bangkok.
Video

Video Nigeria’s Ogonis Divided Over Resuming Oil Production

More than two decades ago, Nigeria’s Ogoni people forced Shell oil company to cease drilling on their land, saying it was polluting the environment. Now, some Ogonis say it’s time for the oil to flow once again. Chris Stein reports from Kegbara Dere, Nigeria.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More