Afghanistan War Powers Resolution

Floor Speech

By:  Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
Date: March 17, 2011
Location: Washington, DC

Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, pursuant to the order of the House of March 16, 2011, I call up the concurrent resolution (H. Con. Res. 28) directing the President, pursuant to section 5(c) of the War Powers Resolution, to remove the United States Armed Forces from Afghanistan, and ask for its immediate consideration.

The Clerk read the title of the concurrent resolution.

The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Womack). Pursuant to the order of the House of Wednesday, March 16, 2011, the concurrent resolution is considered read.

The text of the concurrent resolution is as follows:

H. Con. Res. 28

Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring),

SECTION 1. REMOVAL OF UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES FROM AFGHANISTAN.

Pursuant to section 5(c) of the War Powers Resolution (50 U.S.C. 1544(c)), Congress directs the President to remove the United States Armed Forces from Afghanistan--

(1) by no later than the end of the period of 30 days beginning on the day on which this concurrent resolution is adopted; or

(2) if the President determines that it is not safe to remove the United States Armed Forces before the end of that period, by no later than December 31, 2011, or such earlier date as the President determines that the Armed Forces can safely be removed.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. The concurrent resolution shall be debatable for 2 hours, with 1 hour controlled by the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. Kucinich) or his designee and 1 hour equally divided and controlled by the chair and ranking minority member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Mr. KUCINICH. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that the gentleman from North Carolina (Mr. Jones) be allowed to control half of my time.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Without objection, the gentleman from North Carolina (Mr. Jones) will control half the time allocated to the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. Kucinich).

There was no objection.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from Florida.

Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to this resolution, as it would undermine the efforts of our military and our international partners in Afghanistan and would gravely harm our Nation's security.

Insanity has been described as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Three thousand people died on September 11 because we walked away once from Afghanistan, thinking that it didn't matter who controlled that country. We were wrong then. Let us not make the same mistake twice. Completing our mission in Afghanistan is essential to keeping our homeland safe.

As Under Secretary of Defense Michele Flournoy stated in testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee earlier this week, ``The threat to our national security and the security of our friends and allies that emanates from the borderland of Afghanistan and Pakistan is not hypothetical. There is simply no other place in the world that contains such a concentration of al Qaeda senior leaders and operational commanders. To allow these hostile organizations to flourish in this region is to put the security of the United States and our friends and allies at grave risk.''

To quit the area before we have routed out the terrorists would not only hand al Qaeda a propaganda victory of immeasurable value, it would cede them a sanctuary from which they could mount fresh strikes at the west with virtual immunity. To withdraw from Afghanistan at this point, before we finish the job, is to pave the way for the next 9/11. Therefore, the question that we must consider is, Can we afford to abandon our mission in Afghanistan? General David Petraeus, commander, International Security Assistance Force, ISAF, commander, U.S. Forces Afghanistan, stated, ``I can understand the frustration. We have been at this for 10 years. We have spent an enormous amount of money. We have sustained very tough losses and difficult, life-changing wounds. But I think it is important to remember why we are there.''

This is about our vital national security interests, Mr. Speaker. It is about doing what is necessary to ensure that al Qaeda and other extremists cannot reestablish safe havens such as the ones they had in Afghanistan when the 9/11 attacks were planned against our Nation and our people. The enemy, indeed, is on the run. It is demoralized and divided. Let us not give up now.

Let us not betray the sacrifices of our men and women serving in harm's way, and they ask for nothing in return, except our full support. Dedicated servants such as my stepson Douglas and daughter-in-law Lindsay, who served in Iraq--and Lindsay also served in Afghanistan. Dedicated servants such as Matt Zweig and Greg McCarthy of our Foreign Affairs Committee majority staff, who just returned from serving a year in Kandahar and Kabul. And we thank them for their service. Let us follow the lead of our wounded warriors who, after long and arduous recoveries, volunteer to return to the battlefield to finish their mission. I urge our colleagues to oppose this dangerous resolution.

Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

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Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, before I yield to the gentleman from California (Mr. McKeon), the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, it is important to underscore, as the Under Secretary of Defense Michele Flournoy has, that to withdraw from Afghanistan at this time, before we finish the job, is to pave the way for the next 9/11.

She and other U.S. and allied officials note that we need look no further than the example of Ahmad Siddiqui, a 36-year-old German of Afghan origin who U.S. interrogators talked to, and he revealed Osama bin Laden was planning an attack on Europe. Without our boots on the ground in Afghanistan the plot against Europe might never have been uncovered. Without our boots on the ground, we will not be able to stop the next wave of attacks against our homeland, our citizens, our families, and ourselves.

Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from California (Mr. McKeon), the esteemed chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

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