Afghanistan

War funding update: vote(s?) this week

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) says we need a timeline for withdrawal from Afghanistan

The word from DC is that the Senate will vote on the war funding bill in the next couple of days. Senator Russ Feingold plans to introduce an amendment requiring the president to develop a timetable for withdrawal from Afghanistan, based on the legislation he and Rep. Jim McGovern have introduced in the Senate and House. Sen. Feingold put out a press release today about his intention to offer the amendment:

“A large, open-ended, expensive military presence in Afghanistan is not the way to defeat al Qaeda,” Feingold said.  “Rather than pouring so much of our money and resources into one country that isn’t even al Qaeda’s base, we should develop a timetable to redeploy our troops from Afghanistan so we can focus on going after al Qaeda’s global network.”

The amendment mirrors the Feingold-McGovern-Jones legislation and would require the president to provide a plan and timetable for drawing down our forces in Afghanistan and identify any variables that could require changes to that timetable.  The amendment would not require the president to redeploy troops.  Congress has appropriated $299.6 billion for the war in Afghanistan and related operations to date (FY01-FY10).  This supplemental bill includes another $30 billion for Afghanistan.  The total cost to date of both Afghanistan and Iraq is over $1 trillion.

The House Appropriations Committee will mark up their version of the bill Thursday afternoon, and the House might manage to squeeze in a vote before the Memorial Day recess. Rep. McGovern also plans to offer an amendment based on the timeline legislation. Because the supplemental has been loaded up with important programs unrelated to the war in Afghanistan, Peace Action West has been pushing for a separate vote on the war funding, so representatives can express their opposition to the war with a clean vote and then support the other programs like Haiti relief without compromising on their views on the Afghanistan strategy. Our supporters in San Francisco have been contacting Speaker Pelosi to support the split, and we sent this letter to her staff last week. The signs are still good that such a split vote might happen in the House.

This could be our last big push in both the House and the Senate. We must demonstrate that momentum against the war in Afghanistan is growing in Congress. If you haven’t yet, click here to take action and tell your senators and representative to vote no on the funding and support the McGovern/Feingold bill.

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