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Afghanistan War Powers Resolution

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. KINGSTON. Madam Speaker, I rise in opposition to this resolution, but I do appreciate Mr. Kucinich for bringing it up. And I think it is proper to debate this. I am a member of the Appropriations Committee. And many years ago in committee we voted to support the Skaggs amendment to an appropriations rule that would have put the war powers in effect during something in the Clinton administration, but I don't remember what the skirmish was. So I think it is appropriate for us to debate this. However, I think the timing is not exactly optimal, particularly with troops in the field.

I also want to point out that it does appear to me that if the Democrat leadership was serious about this, they would have allowed hearings in the committee, and they should have had a committee vote rather than just put it on the House floor. But I am glad that you brought it up, and I know your absolute sincerity in this.

I also want to point out to you, as somebody who voted ``no'' on the litany I am about to give on spending, that if we are looking for money, perhaps in May of '08 we should not have passed a stimulus program of $168 billion; in July of 2008, a $200 billion bailout of Fannie Mae; in August '08, $85 billion by the Federal Reserve for AIG, which is now up to $140 billion; and in November of '08, $700 billion for the TARP bailout; and in January of '09, $787 billion for a stimulus program which was designed to keep us from getting to 8 percent unemployment, and we are now pushing 10 percent unemployment. That was followed by a $410 billion omnibus spending bill. And then we had in December of '09, a $165 billion jobs program. So we're spending a lot of money. And there's a lot of it out there.

But I would suggest if we're looking for money, what we need to do is get out of the bailout business, from General Motors to the banks. And I think we could find a lot of money on a bipartisan basis. And I know the gentleman is one of the strongest critics of corporate welfare, and yet that is what we have spent 2 years doing, Democrats and Republicans alike. I won't say it started with President Obama.

I do want to say this about the troops in the field. And I do respect your support of troops. I just got back from Afghanistan. I was there Saturday, and I was in Pakistan Sunday, meeting with General McChrystal, meeting with our leadership on the ground over there. We do have a new strategy. It is shape, clear, hold, build, and transfer. And in our first muscle movement under this, as you know we went to Marja, we went to the Helmand Province, and we had a military victory. But rather than leave it there, we have now worked on a successful civilian transfer to make sure that the Afghanis are ready to take on this new conquered territory.

Karzai was briefed from the beginning on the battle for Marja. One-third of the troops were Afghanis. They fought shoulder to shoulder with the coalition forces. The governor of the Helmand province was briefed. There is a new police force that is coming in there to crack down on the corruption in the Afghan police force, because that is one of the problems.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. The time of the gentleman has expired.

Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. I am pleased to yield 30 additional seconds to the gentleman from Georgia.

Mr. KINGSTON. I thank the gentlewoman.

Thirdly, we now have an engaged Pakistan. One hundred forty-seven thousand troops have closed off the safe havens the Taliban has been running to in Pakistan itself in the meantime. Things are happening. And while I support the gentleman's concept of making sure the War Powers Act is followed, I think the timing is poor. So I will not support it at this time because of the progress on the ground, because of the troops that are on the ground.

But again, I want to congratulate the gentleman in his strong conviction of this. I do think it is something that we in Congress need to look at. We need to look at it carefully. I hope that the committee will have some hearings on this. And I hope that we might have some regular order and have an opportunity for the minority party to maybe even offer an amendment or a motion to recommit or something like that that I think would be very beneficial for us to have this national debate.

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