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Public Statements

Supplemental Appropriations

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, yesterday, the Senate began consideration of the supplemental spending bill to fund the surge of forces into Afghanistan and our ongoing efforts in Iraq.

President Karzai was recently here to talk about the situation in Afghanistan, and during that same week General McChrystal briefed the Armed Services Committee on the conduct of the overall campaign.

One message that came through from both visits is that the surge in Afghanistan is not yet complete and the counterinsurgency strategy General McChrystal has developed is still in its early stages. So it is impossible to overstate the importance of supporting our troops in the field.

In the coming year, the resolve of NATO forces in Afghanistan will be tested by the Taliban fighters. The Taliban leadership in Pakistan will be watching with interest to see if this Congress and our country stand firmly behind the counterinsurgency strategy and so will our Pakistani partners, elected governments in European capitals, and average citizens in Afghanistan.

Low-level Taliban fighters in Afghanistan will ultimately have to decide whether to side with a government that has yet to earn their trust or Taliban leaders. They will be watching our efforts as they weigh whether to side with the Taliban leaders or their current government in this fight. This is why we must keep up the pressure.

The stakes are as high as ever. We have seen that in recent weeks as the Pakistani Taliban has attempted to strike us here at home and as the Afghan Taliban has launched high visibility strikes at military installations in Kandahar and at Bagram. Afghan leaders who attend the coming peace talks will be waiting to see if the United States can be trusted to stay long enough to fulfill our promises of helping the security forces of Afghanistan become operationally effective.

American forces have brought great pressure on the Taliban in Afghanistan. That must continue if General McChrystal's strategy is to succeed. We must work together to help him ensure that the Taliban do not return to power in Afghanistan and that Afghanistan does not again become a sanctuary for terrorists.

In short, we must pass this bill with bipartisan support and resist the urge to slow it down or to use it as a mere vehicle for deficit spending on pet domestic projects that will only bog us down in a partisan fight.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.

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