Dem proposal to withdraw from Afghanistan rejected by House

"My amendment allows Congress the opportunity to stand squarely with the war-weary American people who want to bring our troops home," Lee said on the House floor. "The call has been growing across this land to bring this war to an end. It's time now for the Congress to answer the call here today."

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Republicans rejected the amendment, saying it would force the United States to abandon Afghanistan to its own fate. The underlying bill requires the United States to keep at least 68,000 soldiers in the country through 2014.

"You cannot just abandon Afghanistan, and ignore, stick your head in the sand and pretend it's not going to have consequences," said Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas). Thornberry reminded members that the United States is there to ensure that Afghanistan does not become a breeding ground for terrorists.

"We're not there because of them, we're there because of us," he said. "We're there to make sure Afghanistan is no longer used as a safe haven, as a base, which will be used to launch attacks against us. That's the crux of the matter."

Another Republican, Rep. Steve Pearce (N.M.), grew angry at the suggestion that the United States should pick up and leave, and said his experience in the Vietnam War suggests that is the wrong approach.

"We lost the Vietnam War because we took the control of the war away from the generals and placed it into this body, people who had never been in combat, who had never been in harm's way," Pearce said.

"And I'm telling you as someone who was there during a time when Congress choked off the funds to people who were in harm's way, I had a burning anger that burns today. And when I see this amendment and visualize the young men and women over there who you're cutting funds off and saying, 'We're going to leave you with an orderly and quiet withdrawal,' it's not humanly possible. The other side doesn't play by your orderly rules."

Several Democrats were angry themselves during Thursday's debate over a GOP decision not to allow a vote on a bipartisan amendment that calls for a military withdrawal by the end of 2013. Several charged Republicans with being afraid that the amendment would pass.

Lee's amendment was turned away on a 113-303 vote.

The House also held several other recorded votes late Thursday, after which it planned to return to amendment debate. With these votes, the House is about one-third of the way through amendments. Other votes occurred on amendments from:

• Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), prohibits funds made available by this act from being used for assistance to Pakistan in fiscal 2013. Rejected 84-335.

• Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), withholds funds from the Coalition Support Fund until the secretary of Defense certifies that Pakistan has opened the Ground Lines of Communication, is allowing the transit of NATO supplies through Pakistan into Afghanistan and is supporting the retrograde of U.S. equipment out of Afghanistan. Passed 412-1.

• Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.), directs that foreign nationals suspected of terrorism be tried only by military commissions. Passed 249-171.

• Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.), prevents the DOD from requiring contractors to enter into a project labor agreement (PLA) as a condition of winning a federal construction contract. Passed 211-209.

• Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), prohibits any funds made available by this act, as well as any funds authorized and appropriated to the DOD through fiscal 2023, from being used for the research, development, testing and evaluation of a long-range penetrating bomber aircraft. Rejected 112-308.

• Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), reduces the funds authorized in this act for the ground-based midcourse missile defense system by $403 million and would direct that amount to deficit reduction. Rejected 165-252.

Three other amendments were rejected earlier in the day by voice vote, from:

• Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), prohibits the Joint Special Operations Command from conducting drone strikes against targets whose identity is not known or is based solely on patterns of behavior (aka "signature" strikes).

• Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), terminates the F-35B aircraft program and would direct the funds authorized for such to procure an additional number of F/A-18E/F aircraft and to deficit reduction.

• Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), eliminates funds made available for the procurement of the V-22 Osprey aircraft and would direct the funds authorized for such to deficit reduction.

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