Ed. Note: Today, the House passed H.R. 4310, the Fiscal Year 2013 Defense Authorization Bill. Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin opposed the bill.
"I have said repeatedly that it is time to bring our troops home safely as soon as possible and redirect the roughly $2 billion we spend in Afghanistan each week to balance our budget and strengthen our economy here at home.
With all the challenges our country is facing, we should not be adding billions of dollars in new spending that the Pentagon does not want or need. As we confront the challenge of our nation's budget deficit, tough choices must be made that reflect our nation's priorities. For example, the money spent in just three weeks in Afghanistan could be used to prevent student loan interest rates from doubling this summer.
Funding the Department of Defense to protect our homeland and support our troops in harm's way is a key responsibility of Congress and one that I take very seriously. There are elements of H.R. 4310 that I support, especially pay increases for our servicemen and women. Servicemembers and their families deserve our thanks and our respect for their work and their sacrifices. The bill also restores cuts to the Air Force National Guard and Reserve, a measure I worked on to keep valuable security assets and jobs in Wisconsin.
However, I could not support the bill as written because it continues to fund the war in Afghanistan. I agree with a majority of Americans who believe that our engagement in Afghanistan should have ended when our stated mission was accomplished. I do not support extending our military presence in Afghanistan and I continue to press to bring all of our troops home from Afghanistan as quickly as is safely possible.