Floor Statements

Washington, D.C.—U.S. Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (R-Calif.), the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, today criticized liberal efforts to derail the President’s counterinsurgency strategy for Afghanistan.  McKeon’s comments were made during Floor consideration of the Fiscal Year 2010 supplemental appropriations bill, which provides additional money to for U.S. military personnel and combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.  House Democratic leaders, in an effort to appease liberal Members of their caucus, allowed three amendments to be considered that would either defund or scale back U.S. operations in Afghanistan.

McKeon’s floor statement follows:

“Mr. Speaker, I am very disappointed that the House Democratic leadership would allow a vote on these three amendments at this time.  Make no mistake, all three would go far to cripple our war effort in Afghanistan and directly undermine the Commander-in-Chief.

“Just 24 hours ago, the Senate unanimously confirmed General David Petraeus as the new Commander of U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan.  And yet not a day later, here we are on the House floor taking dangerous political potshots at our troops’ mission and the President’s strategy to surge an additional 30,000 troops to the region.

“I strongly oppose all three Afghanistan amendments before us.  Not only would they tie the hands of the Commander-in-Chief, but it sends the exact wrong message to our allies and enemies alike at such a critical moment in our efforts in Afghanistan. 

“Today our newly-confirmed Commander walked the halls at NATO headquarters, working to reassure our allies that our country is committed to this war.  And right now he is heading to Afghanistan to take command.  We should stand in unity with him—not sit here in Washington taking vote after vote to strip funding from our warfighters before his plane even touches down.

“General Petraeus has proven himself to be one of America's most capable military officers.  He turned around a perilous situation in Iraq and our combat troops have started coming home.   By the end of August our troop levels in Iraq will be down to 50,000 for training and reserve purposes. 

“I believe the President has chosen the right Commander and the right strategy in Afghanistan.   I'm confident General Petraeus and our troops can succeed if given the time, space, and resources they need to complete their mission.

“As the General arrives in Afghanistan, those of us here in Congress cannot lose sight of the broader perspective: our brave military men and women, and their civilian counterparts, are in the midst of a tough fight that is critical to U.S. national security.  Cutting off their funding in the middle of that fight is tantamount to abandonment.

“In December and again last week, the President reminded us why we are in Afghanistan. It was the epicenter of where al Qaeda planned and launched the 9/11 attacks against innocent Americans. After an exhaustive 90 day review last fall, the President recommitted the United States to defeating al Qaeda and the Taliban.

“The timeline for success in Afghanistan cannot be dictated by arbitrary political clocks here in Washington; it must be driven by the operational clock in Kabul, Kandahar, and the Afghan countryside.  We all hope and pray that this goal can be accomplished by July 2011, but the President must adhere to his recent comments that conditions on the ground will dictate the pace of any withdrawal next summer.

“I urge my colleagues to reject these ill-timed measures, reject attempts to strip funding for our warfighters, and instead show our troops and allies a united front in our efforts.”