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Providing for Further Consideration of H.R. 1960, National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. O'ROURKE. I thank the gentleman for yielding me this time.

I rise today in support of the McGovern-Smith-Lee-Jones-Garamendi amendment to responsibly end the war in Afghanistan.

I have the distinct honor of representing Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, home to 33,000 Active Duty Army servicemembers and their families.

Since the start of this war in Afghanistan, 41 soldiers from Fort Bliss have lost their lives in combat. In April of this year, five Fort Bliss soldiers lost their lives in a single IED attack. All five of them had already been awarded both a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. Just this past month, three Fort Bliss soldiers were killed in a single attack. More than 100 have been injured in combat and awarded the Purple Heart. Countless soldiers are coming back to our community with unseen mental injuries, including post-traumatic stress disorder. And already this year, three soldiers at Fort Bliss have committed suicide.

This terrible loss of life should focus us on our solemn responsibility to know when to bring our soldiers home to their families. We are grateful to their service and their achievements. Because of them, Osama bin Laden has been killed. The Taliban has been weakened, and the Afghan people have been given the opportunity to develop a stable and democratic state, if they so choose.

I believe now is the right time to responsibly end the longest war in our Nation's history. The amendment would help ensure that the President sticks to his timetable to end combat operations by the end of this year and bring our soldiers home from Afghanistan by the end of next year. This amendment will save lives, and it honors the sacrifice of our soldiers who have lost their lives by guaranteeing that Congress fulfills our constitutional responsibility to decide when to send our soldiers into harm's way and how long to keep them there.

I urge all of my colleagues to support it, and bring our soldiers home.


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