Roiled by the change of military leadership in Afghanistan, the House tomorrow will vote on whether to continue the course in Afghanistan for another year.
If Republicans vote for the $33 billion supplemental appropriation for the troop surge in Afghanistan, as expected, the measure will pass. So will the larger military appropriation, which includes approximately $160 billion for another year in Afghanistan.
Peace forces in Congress, led by Representative Jim McGovern, will push in the Rules Committee for clean up-or-down votes on both the $33 billion for escalation and an amendment requiring the White House to adopt an exit strategy including a deadline for troop withdrawals. President Obama so far has offered a July 2011 deadline to "begin" withdrawals, a position that has come under fire from Republicans and some in the military.
The language of the McGovern amendment appears to require another Congressional vote if the White House wants to push back the July 2011 deadline. As McGovern and twenty-five House members wrote in a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi last week, the recent Rolling Stone article exposed high-level military opposition to the July 2011 deadline.
In a conference call sponsored by Win Without War today, McGovern said his goal was to "maximize the message," hopefully by obtaining a majority of Democratic House members to at least vote for the exit strategy measure whether or not they vote against the supplemental. McGovern argued that the sixty-five House votes for Representative Dennis Kucinich’s war powers resolution earlier this year "did not help our cause."
Last year a House majority voted for the exit strategy as a resolution, with 138 votes. As of this week, McGovern had ninety-eight co-sponsors on his measure.
If the vote results show an increased Congressional opposition, the president and his national security team will face a future in which the Afghanistan war is supported primarily by Republicans and opposed by Democrats in Congress as well as Democrats and independents in recent opinion surveys.
McGovern was joined in the conference call by Representative Chellie Pingree of Maine.