GOP lawmaker: We can afford Afghanistan, but not a transportation bill?

Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), a long-time critic of U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, questioned House GOP leadership on Tuesday for arguing that the transportation bill must be delayed due to fiscal constraints, even as the United States spends billions of dollars each month in Afghanistan.

On the House floor, Jones referred to a Thursday conversation between House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), in which Cantor said the transportation bill is being delayed because "we're just out of money."

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"Just out of money?" Jones asked. "And we're spending $10 billion a month in Afghanistan?

"I don't understand the mathematics around here," he continued. "We can't bring up a transportation bill, a two-year bill, because we're just out of money. But yet, Mr. Karzai, you can get your $10 billion a month, and you can negotiate with the Taliban, and take the $10 billion that we borrowed from the Chinese to give to Karzai to they can buy weapons to kill the American soldiers and Marines. It just does not make any sense."

House Republican leaders were scrambling to find a way to extend federal transportation programs on Tuesday, after having to pull back their proposed three-month extension. House Democrats were lining up to oppose that bill in order to put pressure on the GOP to accept the Senate-passed transportation bill.

The Senate bill would authorize $109 billion in spending over two years. Republicans have been tight-lipped about exactly why they oppose that bill, but last week, Cantor said Republicans are looking for new ways to fund this account.

"And so we're trying to take the approach that most American families and business would take, and that is to try and spend within our means, to come with some innovative ways to look at transportation needs and demands in the future, and our being able to meet them," he said.

GOP leaders said late Monday that on Tuesday they would try to move "legislation related to" the three-month extension, H.R. 4239.