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Public Statements

Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. GRIJALVA. Madam Chair, after 11 years, over 2,000 Americans killed, 16,000 Americans wounded, nearly $400 billion spent, and more than 12,000 Afghan civilians dead since 2007, we have to question the U.S. presence in Afghanistan.

Should we continue America's longest war? At what cost and for how long?

The American people have questioned and continue to question time and time again--or should we be there, and the answer has always been a resounding no. It's not new news that the American public, Democrat, Republican and everyone else has soured on the war. The national security rationale has lost its resonance, and the economic and human cost in Afghanistan are crippling our ability to recover from our own deep recession.

According to The New York Times/CBS report, more than two-thirds of those polled, 69 percent, thought the United States should not be at war in Afghanistan. The U.S. war in Afghanistan is costing the U.S. taxpayers nearly $2 billion per week, over $100 billion per year. Meanwhile, in the wake of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, too many of our neighbors and friends are out of work, struggle to pay their bills, and look to us for job creation and support.

Americans who feel the sting of doing more with less are connecting the dots between our Federal priorities and spending and the pain they're feeling at home. Americans struggling to put their kids through college without Pell Grants or running out of employment benefits with no new job on the horizon cannot ignore the cost of the war.

Arizona families in my district have paid nearly $777 million for the Afghan war since 2001. For that same amount of money, the State of Arizona could have had 336,000 children receiving low-income health care for 1 year; 15,000 elementary school teachers employed in our schools for 1 year; 93,000 Head Start slots for children for 1 year; over 100,000 military veterans receiving VA medical care for 1 year; over 10,000 police officers and law enforcement officers securing our communities and neighborhoods for 1 year; 113,000 scholarships for university students for 1 year; 139,000 students receiving Pell Grants of $5,550. These are just some of the bad trade-offs we are making with our national resources, our treasure and our blood on a war instead of fixing the problems here at home.

I would like to take a brief second to thank, to honor, and to commemorate those warriors from my district, District 7, for your ultimate sacrifice to our country: Sergeant First Class Todd Harris, Sergeant Martin Lugo, Sergeant Justin Gallegos, Master Sergeant Joseph Gonzales, Sergeant Charles Browning, First Lieutenant Alejo Thompson, Sergeant First Class Jonathan McCain, Staff Sergeant Donald Stacy, Private First Class Adam Hardt.

Our servicemen and -women have performed with incredible courage and commitment in Afghanistan. They have done everything that has been asked of them; but the truth is, they have been put in an impossible position, a war with no foreseeable end and a war that is costing not just them and their families, but our country, the ability to prosper and to move forward.

It's time to say enough is enough. It's time to take the responsibility to end this war in Afghanistan, be responsible, but end it. The cost to America, the cost to our future is too enormous to continue on the path that we're on, a path that has no end.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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