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Congress Signals Afghanistan Exit

Washington, DC — May 26, 2011 — The House of Representatives voted today on various amendments to the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act that gave the strongest signal yet that Representatives want an end to the Afghanistan war.

Paul Kawika Martin, the political and policy director of Peace Action — a group founded in 1957 and the largest grassroots peace organization in the U.S. — organized over twenty organizations to support amendments that would speed up bringing troops home from Afghanistan, especially the McGovern/Jones amendment.  He said, “Congress is catching up with voters who believe It’s time to transition from extremely expensive and counterproductive Pentagon strategies in Afghanistan to political negotiations and Afghan-led aid and development.”

The amendment received the most votes in history pushing for an accelerated transition in Afghanistan.  204 Representatives voted aye, including a record 26 Republicans.

The amendment offered by Reps. Jim McGovern (D-MA), Walter Jones (D-NC), Loretta Sanchez (D-CA-47), John Lewis (D-GA), Justin Amash (R-MI), David Cicilline (D-RI), Ron Paul (R-TX), and Peter Welch (D-VT) would have, among other things, required plan and timeframe on accelerated transition of military operations to Afghan authorities from the Pentagon.

In 2009 McGovern offered a similar amendment that garnered 138 votes. Last year, it received 162 votes. 

Polls continue to show that Americans have long turned against the war in Afghanistan with as much as 60% of Americans opposing.

The organization supports all troops and contractors out of Afghanistan within one year with resources focused on political reconciliation and Afghan-led aid and development.

“If the President wants to get reelected in 2012, it’s clear he needs to convince his base and independent voters that he is ending the war in Afghanistan by bringing troops home in significant numbers no later than July,” concluded Martin.

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Founded in 1957, Peace Action (formerly SANE/Freeze), the United States' largest peace and disarmament organization, with over 100,000 paid members and nearly 100 chapters in 36 states, works to abolish nuclear weapons, promote government spending priorities that support human needs, encourage real security through international cooperation and human rights and support nonmilitary solutions to the conflicts with Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq. The public may learn more and take action at http://www.Peace-Action.org. For more up-to-date peace insider information, follow Peace Action’s political director on Twitter. http://twitter.com/PaulKawika 

Notes: 

1.   The McGovern/Jones would have required: 1) A plan and timeframe on accelerated transition of military operations to Afghan authorities; 2) A plan and timeframe on negotiations leading to a political solution and reconciliation in Afghanistan; and 3) A new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on al-Qaeda. The amendment would clarify that nothing in this section limits the president under existing authority to go after al-Qaeda, share intelligence, or modify military strategy and tactics while redeploying US forces under the plan/timeframe required above.

http://www.rules.house.gov/amendments/jpm523111043254325.pdf

2.   AP-GfK Poll conducted by GfK Roper Public Affairs & Corporate Communications. May 5-9, 2011. N=1,001 adults nationwide. Margin of error ± 4.2.

"Do you favor or oppose the war in Afghanistan?"

Favor   37%

Oppose  59%

Unsure  4%

3. Peace Action, Friends Committee on National Legislation and Just Foreign Policy took the following positions on amendments:

Carter (TX)

#125

Would expand existing military whistleblower protections, from retaliatory personnel actions, to include communications by Armed Forces Members of ideologically based threats or actions of another Member that the reporting Member reasonably believes could be counterproductive or detrimental to United States interests or security.

SUPPORT 

 

Schock (IL)

#179

Would allow a service member with a minor dependent (child under the age of 19) to request a deferment of a deployment to a combat zone if their spouse is currently deployed to a combat zone.

SUPPORT 

 

Baca (CA)

#190

Would direct the Secretary of Defense to coordinate with each military department to enhance current suicide prevention information sharing services for members of the Armed Forces. Coordinated efforts would occur at various stages of training from their initial enlistment or appointment through their final retirement or separation.

SUPPORT 

 

Carson (IN)

#65

Would direct the Department of Defense to provide mental health assessments to service members during deployment. When possible, these assessments would include review of all past health records originated by the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

SUPPORT 

 

Boswell (IA)

#110

Would require DoD and VA to conduct a joint study on the incident rate of breast cancer of service members who have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan under operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

SUPPORT

 

Pascrell (NJ), Platts (PA)

#220

Would require the Defense Department to report to Congress on their plans to identify, refer, and treat service members with possible traumatic brain injuries who may have slipped through the cracks prior to the June 2010 policy.

SUPPORT

 

Maloney (NY)

#204

Would require public disclosure of information submitted under Section 847 of this act.

SUPPORT 

 

Hanabusa (HI)

#42

Would direct the Secretary of Defense and the OMB to identify programs within the DoD budget that are ineffective, redundant or unused.

SUPPORT 

 

Ellison (MN)

#37

Would strike section 1604, Budget Item Relating to LHA--7 Ship Program.

SUPPORT 

 

Woolsey (CA)

#19

Would eliminate the availability of funds for procurement of the Navy and Air Force V-22 Osprey aircraft

SUPPORT

 

Quigley (IL)

#180

Would reduce RDT&E by 10% throughout DOD.

SUPPORT 

 

Sanchez, Loretta (CA)

#102

Would reduce the funding for Ground-based Midcourse Defense systems by $100,000,000

SUPPORT. 

 

Wilson, Joe (SC)

#11

Would direct the Secretary of Energy, in coordination with the Secretary of Defense and the Administrator for Nuclear Security, to ensure the nuclear waste repository located at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, remains available for the disposal of high-level radioactive waste resulting from the activities of the DOD and the NNSA until a new location for such waste has been sited and approved.

OPPOSE 

 

Braley

#209 

Would require a report from the President, in consultation with the Secretaries of Defense, State and Veterans Affairs, on the long-term costs of military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.

SUPPORT

 

Bishop, Tim (NY)

#53

Would require the Secretary of Defense to submit a report on establishing an active registry for each incidence of a member of the Armed Forces being exposed to occupational and chemical hazards, including waste disposal, during contingency operations.

SUPPORT 

 

McCollum (MN)

#153

Would limit the amount spent on military musical units to $200,000,000 in fiscal year 2012.

SUPPORT 

 

Sanchez, Loretta (CA)

#100

Would increase the funding for the Global Threat Reduction Initiative. The offset will be derived from the Aerostat Joint Project Office.

SUPPORT 

 

Sanchez, Loretta (CA)

#146

Would increase funding for the operation of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board by $2,500,000. The offset would be derived from Joint Tactical Radio System Maritime-Fixed radios.

SUPPORT 

 

Smith, Adam (WA)

#195

Would require a report on Research and treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

SUPPORT

 

Cravaack (MN)

#92

Would repeal Title VXII of the Department of Defense Authorization Act, 1985, which authorized the establishment of the United States Institute of Peace. 

OPPOSE

 

Lee, Barbara (CA)

#171

Would return Defense Department spending to 2008 level, with exemptions for personnel and health accounts.

SUPPORT

 

Schakowsky (IL)

#21

Would freeze Department of Defense funding at current levels until the Pentagon can successfully pass an audit. The amendment contains a national security waiver and exceptions for overseas contingency operations, defense personnel, and wounded warrior accounts.

SUPPORT

 

Smith, Adam (WA)

#59

Would amend Section 1039 to allow transfer of detainees to the US to testify in federal court. Would strike language barring transfer of detainees held abroad to the US. Would require certification by the Attorney General prior to transfer.

SUPPORT

 

Buchanan (FL)

#77

Would require all foreign terrorists, with links to terrorist networks, who attack the United States or the Government be considered enemy combatants to be tried by military tribunals, not in the civilian court system.

OPPOSE

 

Amash (MI), Lee, Barbara (CA), Conyers (MI), Jones (NC), Nadler (NY), Paul (TX)

#155

Would strike section 1034 of the bill, relating to the authorization for use of military force.

STRONGLY SUPPORT

 

McGovern (MA)

#30

Would require: 1) A plan and timeframe on accelerated transition of military operations to Afghan authorities; 2) A plan and timeframe on negotiations leading to a political solution and reconciliation in Afghanistan; and 3) A new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on al-Qaeda. The amendment would clarify that nothing in this section limits the president under existing authority to go after al-Qaeda, share intelligence, or modify military strategy and tactics while redeploying US forces under the plan/timeframe required above.

STRONGLY SUPPORT

 

Chaffetz (UT), Welch (VT)

#63

Would require U.S. ground troops to withdraw from Afghanistan, leaving just those who are involved in small, targeted counter-terrorism operations. The amendment would further require the Secretary of Defense to submit a withdrawal plan to Congress within 60 days of enactment.

SUPPORT

 

Garrett (NJ)

#130

Would clarify that the United States Congress has not authorized military actions in Libya upon adoption of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012.

SUPPORT

 

Polis (CO)

#26

Would reduce the amount of troops stationed in Europe to 30,000 and would cut overall end strength levels by 10,000 a year over the next five years.

SUPPORT

 

Conyers (MI), Clarke (NY), Cohen (TN), Duncan (SC), Farr (CA), Grijalva, Raul (AZ), Honda (CA), Johnson, Hank (GA), Johnson, Timothy (IL), Jones (NC), Kucinich (OH), Lee, Barbara (CA), McClintock (CA), Miller, George (CA), Stark (CA), Tonko (NY), Welch (VT), Woolsey (CA)

#35

Would prevent funds authorized in the Act from being used to deploy, establish, or maintain the presence of Members of the Armed Forces or private security contractors on the ground in Libya unless the purpose of the presence is to rescue a Member of the Armed Forces from imminent danger.

STRONGLY SUPPORT

 

Carnahan (MO)

#78

Would withhold the use of 25 percent of funds authorized for the Afghanistan Security Forces Fund, unless the Secretary of Defense certifies to Congress that the Department of Defense has sufficient management and oversight mechanisms on contracts.

SUPPORT

 

Donnelly (IN)

#50

Would improve DoD oversight of private security contractors funded by the DoD by requiring a standard Quality Assurance Surveillance Plan that sets out standards for oversight of all private security contracts, and requiring DoD to designate one official in the country of operations to certify that they have reviewed and are confident of oversight plans for private security contractors.

SUPPORT 

 

Lee, Barbara (CA)

#117

Would prohibit funding to construct permanent military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan.

SUPPORT