Lawmakers urge debate on Afghanistan war

Lawmakers urge debate on Afghanistan war
© Victoria Sarno Jordan

A bipartisan group of lawmakers is demanding a congressional debate on the Afghanistan War as President Trump weighs whether to send more troops into the 15-year-old conflict.

“The Congress of the United States, the only of the three branches of government that has the power to wage war, has not really looked at seriously this war, entering into its 16th year and likely, according to some generals, to go on for generations,” Rep. John GaramendiJohn Raymond GaramendiOvernight Defense: Lawmakers on edge over Iran tensions | Questions rise after State pulls personnel from Iraq | Senators demand briefing | House panel advances 0B Pentagon spending bill | Warren offers plan on climate threats to military House Dems unveil bill to limit Pentagon's ability to transfer military construction dollars Unchain seniors from chained inflation index MORE (D-Calif.) said at a press conference Wednesday. “That’s not right.”

Garamendi and Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) are pushing a bill they’ve introduced that would prohibit funding for the war one year after the bill is enacted unless the president certifies the funding is in U.S. national interests and Congress subsequently passes a joint resolution authorizing the funds.

They were joined Wednesday by Reps. Don YoungDonald (Don) Edwin YoungCongress: Pass legislation that invests in America's water future Bipartisan group introduces legislation to protect federal workers' health benefits during shutdowns Deceptions may sink plans to drill for oil in the Arctic Refuge MORE (R-Alaska), John Duncan (R-Tenn.) and Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), who are among the bill's co-sponsors.

Trump is considering a Pentagon proposal to add 3,000 to 5,000 U.S. troops to the roughly 8,400 already there. U.S. troops are on a dual mission of training, advising and assisting Afghan forces in their fight against the Taliban and conducting counterterrorism missions against groups such as al Qaeda.

The issue is expected to be addressed at a Thursday meeting of NATO heads of state as Trump looks for commitments from allies to increase their troop levels alongside the United States.

The recommendation for more troops is reportedly causing tension between Trump’s military and political advisers, with the political side unsold on increasing involvement in the United States’ longest war.

Asked about the upcoming NATO discussions on Afghanistan, Garamendi referenced the reported tension in the Trump administration.

“Apparently, the administration is unsure of what it wants do,” he said. “I can assure you, the Congress is equally unsure.”

Jones highlighted that most current lawmakers were not in Congress when the war started in 2001 and said those lawmakers deserve an opportunity to debate the war if it’s to continue.

He also questioned whether more troops can make a difference.

“After 16 years of being in Afghanistan, not one thing has changed,” he said. “How much more can our military do to change a nation that is known as the graveyard of empires?”