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Providing for Consideration of H.R. 1540, National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscalm Year 2012

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. CICILLINE. I thank the gentleman for yielding.

For more than 9 years now our American troops have been executing the mission in Afghanistan with extraordinary dedication and competence. They have done all we have asked of them. But what started out as a quick war on October 7, 2001, to wipe out al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and other terrorists has turned into a campaign that seemingly has no end in sight, ripping our Nation's most precious treasures, our brave men and women, from their families and their communities, and costing us more than $8 billion a month.

The cost of this war, again, $8 billion a month, approximately $2 billion a week, is totally unsustainable, especially at a time when we are being asked to make extreme cuts here at home; money, by the way, that we are putting on the American credit card.

Mr. Speaker, my Rhode Island constituents understand that it's time to transfer responsibility for Afghanistan to the Afghan people and bring our brave men and women home. We should no longer send billions of American taxpayer dollars to the Afghan people for their schools and hospitals, roads, bridges, and police, at the expense of making those same investments in our own country, especially when the Karzai government has shown itself incapable of governing effectively or honestly.

For example, a yearlong investigation by a Senate panel has found evidence that the mostly Afghan force of private security guards that our military depends on to protect supply convoys and bases in Afghanistan are rife with criminals, drug users, and insurgents. More alarming, the report alleges that some local warlords, who have emerged as key labor brokers for private security firms, are also Taliban agents.

It's time to rethink our strategy in Afghanistan so that we can focus on rebuilding our economy and making sure Americans can compete in the 21st century. We need to invest in job creation and reducing our debt, instead of sending billions of dollars to a corrupt government abroad. That's why I am proud to support and to be a cosponsor of the McGovern amendment, which requires the President to provide Congress with an exit plan from Afghanistan with a timeframe and a completion date.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. The time of the gentleman has expired.

Mr. McGOVERN. I yield the gentleman an additional 30 seconds.

Mr. CICILLINE. A clear exit plan will stabilize Afghanistan by ending an unpopular presence there and improve our country's flexibility to respond to more immediate and pressing national security challenges, improving our fiscal and economic situation at home. This is about setting the right priorities for the American people.

I urge my colleagues to strongly support the McGovern amendment.


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