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Polis Statement on Vote Against 2009 Defense Supplemental Appropriations Bill

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) issued the following statement today on voting against H.R. 2346, the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2009:

The Defense Supplemental funds a number of worthy and important projects, including international humanitarian assistance for refugees and medical assistance for people suffering from HIV and AIDS. I applaud my colleagues, Chairman Obey in particular, for addressing these priorities. Unfortunately, the positive aspects of this bill cannot hide its underlying premise—funding a misguided war in Iraq and Afghanistan—a policy that I believe must be changed.

At its heart, this bill is about increasing and prolonging US military involvement in Afghanistan, which I do not support. I recently traveled to both Iraq and Afghanistan and saw first-hand the very real challenges that our presence creates. Let's be clear—President Obama inherited two wars and I know he is committed to ending both responsibly. I, however, do not believe there can be a military solution to the conflict and therefore cannot support this bill.

The occupation of Afghanistan will not help us defeat the very real threat of Al Qaeda. Although I am especially encouraged by the "diplomatic surge" and Special Forces' efforts to defeat the threat of Al Qaeda, our resources could be better spent on diplomacy and targeted security operations, rather than continued occupation. I strongly support President Obama and his efforts to end our presence in Iraq. I believe that the best way to support the President is for me to use my vote to help force a discussion about our strategy and tactics in Afghanistan, and for that reason I am voting no.

We cannot achieve peace through the occupation of an entire country. We tried and failed in Iraq, and we cannot afford to do so again. We need a fresh look at our policy in Afghanistan, and this can only come through open discussion and debate. My action today is not a vote against our military or a vote against our President, but an urgent call for an exit strategy for Afghanistan and a plan for peace and security.

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