Today, I introduced new, bipartisan legislation to require the Obama administration to present an exit strategy for U.S. forces from Afghanistan. U.S. Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) is the lead Republican co-sponsor.
Specifically, the bill (The "Afghanistan Exit and Accountability Act") would:
- Require the president to transmit to Congress a plan with timeframe and completion date on the transition of U.S. military and security operations in Afghanistan to the government of Afghanistan;
- Require the president to report quarterly (i.e. every 90 days) on the status of that transition, and the human and financial costs of remaining in Afghanistan, including increased deficit and public debt; and
- Included in those quarterly reports, the president must disclose to Congress the savings in 5-year, 10-year and 20-year time periods were the U.S. to accelerate redeployment and conclude the transition of all U.S. military and security operations to Afghanistan within 180 days (i.e. 6 months).
My remarks from this morning's press conference on Capitol Hill are below:
As we all saw on Sunday, the men and women of our armed forces and intelligence community are incredible people. The killing of Osama bin Laden is a welcome development that makes the world a better, safer place.
The question then becomes: now what? Now that bin Laden is dead and Al Qaeda is scattered around the globe, does it really make sense to keep using over 100,000 U.S. troops to occupy Afghanistan and prop up a corrupt government?
I don't think so.
I believe we must use this opportunity to re-examine our policy and to require the Administration to tell us exactly how and when we will end our massive troop presence in Afghanistan.
This morning a bipartisan group of Members introduced the Afghanistan Exit and Accountability Act.
Our bill requires the president to give Congress a concrete strategy and timeframe for bringing our servicemen and women home to their families and communities.
"It requires quarterly reports on the human and financial costs of continuing the war -- and how much we would save if we withdrew our forces within a reasonable time frame.
That's not too much to ask.
In fact, I believe it's something we owe to the men and women serving so bravely for so long in Afghanistan -- and their families.
This war is the longest in our history. There's no end in sight.
To make it worse, we're not even paying for the war. It's on the national credit card. The war in Afghanistan adds $100 billion a year -- $2 billion each week, $8 billion each month -- to our debt.
We're told that we can't afford vital domestic funding, but we should continue to borrow billions and billions of dollars for nation-building in Afghanistan. That's nuts. Instead, we should be doing some more nation-building right here at home.
On Monday, the Pentagon reported that 1,550 American troops have died in Afghanistan. Last week, another one of my constituents was killed. Tens of thousands more have been wounded. Our soldiers and their families are the only ones being asked to sacrifice. The rest of us are asked to do nothing.
Enough is enough.
The president told us that we will see a substantial drawdown of troops in July. He needs to keep that promise. And he needs to tell us when all of our troops will be coming home, and how much it will keep costing the American people - in sacrificed lives, wounded bodies and minds, and U.S. tax dollars - until this war is finally over.
That's what our bill would require.
One final point. For too long, Congress has ducked its proper oversight responsibilities when it comes to the war in Afghanistan. We've avoided meaningful debate and discussion and have chosen to simply "go along to get along."
Today we -- in a bipartisan way -- plan to force an end to that pattern. We will utilize every opportunity available to us to end that inexcusable indifference.