This week, the House of Representatives prepared to vote on H.R. 1540, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012. It was a critical debate in which Republicans and Democrats wanted to send a strong message to the Obama administration on their feelings towards the present defense strategy.
Representatives Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Walter Jones (R-NC) offered an amendment (#55) similar to H.R. 1735, the Afghanistan Exit and Accountability Act. It required the Obama administration to submit a plan for ending the U.S. war in Afghanistan, including a date for the end of the war.
Yesterday, May 26, the House did not pass the McGovern-Jones amendment, but the 204 votes that it received were victory enough. Last year, the same language had received only 162 votes, which shows that opposition to the war is rapidly growing. In yesterday’s vote, 26 Republican members voted in favor and only eight Democrats voted against the amendment. Representative McGovern spoke in favor of his amendment, stating:
"We need to safeguard our national security...but many of our greatest problems aren't halfway around the world, they're halfway down the block. And rather than nation-building in Afghanistan, we need to do some more nation-building right here in the United States"
Although the McGovern-Jones amendment did not pass, it is the force behind the vote that makes yesterday victorious. Both parties made their roar telling the president that he needs to take more action towards a transition out of Afghanistan.
NETWORK thanks all the members of Congress who voted in support of the McGovern-Jones amendment. We hope that the president receives this as a message that the country knows we need to change course in Afghanistan. As Representative John Conyers (MI) stated, “It is time to engage in smart security where diplomacy, human and economic assistance are used instead of bombs and weapons.” NETWORK will continue its work over the coming weeks and months to build momentum for a fresh approach to the U.S. presence in Afghanistan.