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National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010

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Location: Washington, DC


NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT FOR FISCAL YEAR 2010 -- (House of Representatives - June 25, 2009)

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Mr. BERMAN. I thank my friend for yielding. I have tremendous respect for my friend and colleague from Massachusetts. I know he always has the best interests of the Nation and our armed services at heart. But I must oppose the amendment.

As much as all of us would like to have our brave men and women home again reunited with their loved ones, we don't have a choice but to keep the troops on the ground in Afghanistan for some period of time. The only way we can succeed in Afghanistan is to create an environment conducive to development and good governance. Our U.S. military is an essential component of that.

Requiring President Obama to develop an ``exit strategy''--only a few months after he increased the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan and launched a new strategy--would raise questions about our commitment to the Afghan people and complicate our efforts to help them create a stable and secure nation in a way that would supersede whatever benefits we could get from the passage of this amendment.

I would ask my colleagues to give the President's plan a chance to work.

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Mr. BERMAN. Mr. Chair, I rise in opposition to the Turner amendment to H.R. 2647.

While I appreciate the fact that the gentleman incorporated a number of changes suggested by the Chairman of the Armed Services Committee--which clearly improved the text--and that this debate is about what kind of a strategic force reduction agreement to have, rather than whether to have one at all, I remain concerned about the timing of this amendment.

It is offered as President Obama is preparing to embark on an important visit to Moscow, where he and Russian President Medvedev will hold a summit to discuss a range of critical issues, including the negotiation of a new agreement on U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear forces.

Limiting the scope of a future treaty on the eve of these sensitive discussions would make it much more difficult for the President to negotiate an agreement that adequately protects U.S. national security interests.

Indeed, imposing these limits would only give Russian negotiators additional leverage over the United States as these negotiations begin.

Aside from the fact that this amendment undermines the U.S. negotiating posture, the Executive Branch would almost surely declare that this provision infringes on the President's constitutional authority. So we are providing the Russians with leverage on a provision that the President is likely to treat as advisory. I simply don't think this is the right approach.

In a more general sense, the amendment would also undermine the President's efforts to improve relations with Russia, and particularly to increase cooperation with Moscow on preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapons capability.

Mr. Chair, for all of these reasons, I urge my colleagues to oppose the Turner amendment.

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