One of 142 different amendments to the House military spending bill for 2014, Rep. Barbara Lee (D – CA)’s amendment that would effective end the Afghan War, allowing spending only for the “safe and orderly withdrawal of US troops and military contractors,” has failed.
In a vote of 303-113, Congressmen secured the continuation of the occupation through FY2014, despite polls showing overwhelming public opposition to the war. Rep. Lee insisted that “the American people are far ahead of Congress” on the question.
Other related amendments were also up for debate, including a bipartisan amendment from Reps. Jim McGovern (D – MA) and Walter Jones (R – NC) which would have compelled the president to stick to his official “timetable” for withdrawing from Afghanistan. In this case, the House Republican leadership refused to even allow the vote, saying that they were concerned that enough Congressmen from both parties might vote for it that its defeat wasn’t guaranteed. Rep. Jones said he was confident the bill would have passed.
This would’ve been an enormous blow to President Obama, because while he still public talks about the war ending at the end of 2014, he has already signed a pact with Afghanistan securing a military occupation through 2024.
The voting and lack thereof suggests that while the leadership remains uniformly hawkish in both parties, popular opposition to the war is seen as enough of a political liability that a number of Congressmen are willing to buck the leadership, if given a chance to do so. Sadly, the recognition of this fact may prevent them from ever having a chance to vote on the McGovern-Jones language.