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Public Statements

Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. LEE of California. Mr. Chairman, I have an amendment at the desk.

The Acting CHAIR. The Clerk will report the amendment.

The Clerk read as follows:

At the end of the bill (before the short title), add the following new section:

Sec. __. Funds made available by this Act for operations of the Armed Forces in Afghanistan shall be obligated and expended only for purposes of providing for the safe and orderly withdrawal from Afghanistan of all members of the Armed Forces and Department of Defense contractor personnel who are in Afghanistan. Nothing in this section shall be construed to authorize the use of funds for the continuation of combat operations in Afghanistan while carrying out such withdrawal or to prohibit or otherwise restrict the use of funds available to any department or agency of the United States to carry out diplomatic efforts or humanitarian, development, or general reconstruction activities in Afghanistan.

Ms. LEE of California (during the reading). I ask unanimous consent that the amendment be considered as read and printed in the Record.

The Acting CHAIR. Is there objection to the request of the gentlewoman from California?

There was no objection.

Mr. YOUNG of Florida. Mr. Chairman, I reserve a point of order on the gentlelady's amendment.

The Acting CHAIR. A point of order is reserved.

The gentlewoman is recognized for 5 minutes.

Ms. LEE of California. Mr. Chairman, this amendment is straightforward. It would put a responsible end to combat operations in Afghanistan by limiting funding to the safe and orderly withdrawal of United States troops and military contractors.

Eleven years after Congress wrote a blank check for war without end, which I could not support, the United States is still in Afghanistan. Ever since that vote, I have introduced this Lee amendment--that responsibly and safely brings our troops home--on numerous occasions and at every opportunity. It is past time that Congress caught up, had the debate, and passed this amendment.

Today, we have the opportunity to stand squarely with the war-weary American people who want to bring our troops home. It is clear that the American people have been far ahead of Congress in supporting an end to the war in Afghanistan. The call has been growing across this land to bring this war to an end, and it is past time for Congress to answer that call.

After over a decade of war and over a half a trillion dollars in direct costs--not a penny of it, mind you, paid for, and we talk about deficit reduction--when we should have been actually investing in jobs and our economy here at home, it is really time now to say enough is enough. It is crucial to our economy and to the future of this country to stop pouring billions into a counterproductive military presence in Afghanistan. It is no wonder that 7 out of 10 Americans oppose the war in Afghanistan. The American people have made it clear that the war should end, that it should not go on for another year or 2 years and, surely, not for another decade or more.

Mr. Chair, the costs of the war are unacceptable, particularly when we ask what we gain by keeping our troops in Afghanistan through 2014. The war in Afghanistan has already taken the lives of over 2,000 soldiers, has injured tens of thousands more, and has drained our Treasury of over a half a trillion dollars. These costs will only go up as we spend trillions of dollars on long-term care for our veterans, which of course we must do.

As the daughter of a military veteran, I know firsthand the sacrifices and the commitment involved in defending our Nation; but the truth is our troops have been put in an impossible situation. There is no military solution, and it is past time to end the war and to bring our troops home. Quite frankly, it is time to use these savings from ending the war to create jobs here at home. We need to provide for the health care and economic security of our returning troops by rebuilding the American economy.

The American people have made it clear that the war should end. Not an extra day--not an extra dollar--should be spent extending the decade-long war in Afghanistan. After 11 long years now, it is time to bring our troops home.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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