On May 14th, the House considered H.R. 2346, the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2009 [pdf here]. While I have great faith in the new Obama administration and supported many of the provisions within the supplemental, I had a number of concerns that prevented me from supporting the bill in its current form.

I recognize that our new administration believes that the supplemental was a necessary carryover from the previous administration, but I could not support the continuation of the Bush Administration’s failed modus operandi in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq, and the mis-proportioned 90-10 doctrine of assistance allocation – that is, 90% for military investments and only 10% for political, economic, and social development.

Over the past several weeks, I have been working with Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) co-chair Rep. Raul Grijalva to convene a series of panels featuring Afghan and Pakistani diplomats and security experts to discuss a variety of security issues related to Afghanistan and Pakistan. As I reported to President Obama in early May on behalf of the CPC, this six-part forum has produced a number of recommendations for essential elements that should be a part of our strategy going forward, including:

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1) building the countries’ infrastructure, industry, markets and workforce;

2) involving local leaders at all levels of decision-making;

3) supporting the countries’ most effective indigenous reconstruction, stabilization and conflict resolution strategies;

4) educating girls and integrating women into political and economic leadership; and

5) ensuring oversight so that foreign resources support the goals mentioned above.

The Supplemental represented our first opportunity to correct the failed approaches of the past, but unfortunately did not use this chance. Going forward, I hope that we can work closely with the President to ensure a policy more aligned with the 80-20 model often quoted by General David Petraeus, which would invest 80% of resources into political capacity and institutions with only 20% for military.

In this regard, I, along with other members of the Progressive Caucus, have presented our findings and specific recommendations to our colleagues in Congress, with the intention of informing and improving U.S. policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan. I was pleased to hear in my meeting with the President that his FY2010 budget request will move in this direction.