Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) ushered through the passage of an historic amendment to cut funding for Afghanistan infrastructure. Congressman Cohen's amendment reduced funding for the Afghanistan Infrastructure Fund by $175 million in the FY2013 Defense Department Appropriations bill. It was the only amendment to pass during roll call votes last night. It passed by a vote of 228-191.
"This was a momentous vote for reducing the U.S. role in Afghanistan as it was the first successful vote ever to reduce funding for infrastructure in Afghanistan," said Congressman Cohen. "Members of both parties recognize that it is time for us to bring our troops home and for Afghanistan to invest in their infrastructure."
The Afghan Infrastructure Fund, which is managed by the U.S. Department of Defense, has been plagued with problems and unsustainable development projects. It has been the epitome of wasted taxpayer dollars in Afghanistan -- some of which have been stolen or misplaced. Congressman Cohen argued that the U.S. should not be funneling American dollars to maintain the infrastructure in Afghanistan, especially when U.S. authorities cannot guarantee how the funds are being used.
"During debate on the floor, a colleague mentioned that this fund is necessary to 'bring our troops home,'" said Congressman Cohen. "The truth of the matter is that it has nothing to do with whether we can bring our troops home or not. The truth is that we cannot account for where this money is going, and it is likely going into the pockets of the top one-half of one percent in Afghanistan. The infrastructure holds up well enough there to deploy and redeploy our troops, so it's good enough to bring them home permanently."
The passage of the Cohen amendment reduced the Afghanistan Infrastructure Fund from $375 million to $200 million. Congressman David Cicilline (RI-1) sponsored an amendment that would have eliminated the entire Afghanistan Infrastructure Fund, but it failed by a vote of 149-270.