The House on Thursday voted down a resolution that would have instructed the Obama administration to remove U.S. troops from Afghanistan, but the measure won more support than a similar resolution did in 2010.
The House rejected the bill from Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) by a 93-321 vote in which eight Republicans and 85 Democrats supported it. It won considerably more support than last year's measure, which only garnered 65 votes.
Several Republican members spoke in favor of the resolution, including Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who is said to be mulling a challenge to Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) in next year's Senate race. Reps. John Duncan (R-Tenn.), Walter Jones (R-N.C.), Ron Paul (R-Texas), and Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) also spoke in favor. All of these House Republicans voted for it, as did GOP Reps. John Campbell (Calif.), Howard Coble (NC) and Tim Johnson (Ill.).
Paul argued during his remarks that Republicans looking to cut federal spending should be glad to save billions of dollars, and criticized them for ignoring this advice and focusing instead on cutting just a few million dollars from National Public Radio.
"But at least the fiscal conservatives are going to overwhelmingly in support of slashing NPR, go home and brag about how they're great fiscal conservatives, and the very most they might save is $10 million," Paul said. "And that's their claim to fame for slashing the budget. At the same time, they won't consider for a minute cutting a real significant amount of money."
Kucinich said Congress has for too long allowed Gen. David Petraeus and President Obama to make the decisions about military operations in Afghanistan and needs to assert its authority.
"It's time that we started to stand up for the Constitution of the United States, which, last I checked, in Article I Section 8, provides that Congress has to make the decision whether or not to send our troops into war," he said. "We have not the right to give that over to a president, over to a general, or anybody else."
Most Republicans disagreed. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), who served in Afghanistan, said Congress needs to trust the judgment of military leaders and Obama.
"What we're doing right now is taking out the enemy," he said. "And we have to trust Gen. Petraeus, we have to trust President Obama in this case, that they know what's going on."
House Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Howard Berman (D-Calif.) spoke several times against the legislation. Berman said the resolution is based on language in the War Powers Resolution that allows Congress to call for the return of troops when they are fighting without congressional authorization, but Berman pointed out that Congress has authorized action in Afghanistan.
Berman also said the administration needs more time to let its withdrawal strategy work. "I will not support a call for a full withdrawal until we give the president's strategy additional time, at least through the spring, to show results," Berman said.