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Afghanistan War Powers Resolution

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. JOHNSON of Georgia. Madam Speaker, what a dubious situation I find myself in, having to go behind the Honorable John Lewis, my colleague from Georgia, and to be in opposition to his view. But that is the position that I am in, and I will take on the responsibility.

Madam Speaker, I rise in opposition to the Afghan War Powers Resolution which is before us today and give the reason why, although I do want to commend Representative Kucinich for enabling the House to have a debate on such an important issue, and I thank you for that.

But I cannot foresee any good coming out of a situation where we enable the Taliban to regain control over Afghanistan and to thus become a safe haven for terrorist recruitment, development, and deployment. I'm concerned that passage of this resolution would be an extraordinary usurpation of the power of the Commander in Chief in favor of a Congress where petty, partisan politics have lately been trumping policy.

Our strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan is achieving some promising successes. Pakistan is increasingly cooperating against militants within it border and our military campaigns in Afghanistan are routing the Taliban from their strongholds while decimating Taliban and al Qaeda leadership. The President clearly stated that he would bring focus to our efforts in Afghanistan and he would seek to improve conditions prior to drawing down U.S. forces. Passage of this resolution would prevent him from implementing that strategy and force a premature withdrawal.

Madam Speaker, let me be clear. My intent is always to oppose war. I believe that the President shares that instinct. However, I oppose this resolution, not because I support war, but because this resolution is ill-timed and ill-conceived. Now is not the time for Congress to start a constitutional turf war. I find the premise of this resolution to be flawed at the outset. Remember, we have authorized ongoing operations in Afghanistan, and we are having enough trouble managing our ordinary legislative duties as it is. Let the President execute the strategy he said he would implement and which is yielding positive results. Passage of this resolution would send a message to the world that our President's authority to conduct foreign policy has weakened in favor of a Congress that bickers over arcane Senate rules when major policy decisions are left hanging in the balance.

After too many years wasted in Iraq, an unfocused deployment of our troops in Afghanistan, this President has finally chosen to use the authority of Congress to provide a focus on the real threat. I'm happy to hear Republicans saying that the President is doing a good job, and I urge my colleagues to oppose this resolution.


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