NO EXIT: Congressman Seeks to Fill Gap in Afghanistan War Funding Bill

Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA) is bothered by what's missing in the Supplemental Appropriation for Iraq and Afghanistan: an exit.

His modest proposal to fill that gap? Include a provision that requires the administration to develop an exit strategy for its military escalation in Afghanistan and report that strategy to Congress by the end of the year.

But this sensible requirement did not see the light of day when the House Appropriations Committee passed the war supplemental yesterday. The next stop for the bill-before the full House of Representatives can vote on it-is the Rules Committee. And, as a member of that Committee, Congressman McGovern is asking his colleagues to allow him the chance to offer this proposal as an amendment to the war supplemental on the floor of the House next week. The Committee will consider this request next Wednesday.

Congressman McGovern and this proposal deserve the support of his Committee and the House Democratic Caucus. To get that support, he needs us. Call your Member of Congress at (202) 224-3121 and urge them to support Rep. Jim McGovern's Afghanistan Exit Amendment.

Congressman McGovern is as worried as many of us are that the $94.2 billion war supplemental is going to fuel our nation's descent into a disastrous quagmire. He, like us, agreed with President Obama when he told the nation on 60 Minutes that when it comes to the war in Afghanistan: "There's got to be an exit strategy".

Many of our NATO allies agree as well. The leader of Canada's Liberal Party told me last week that the only way Canada citizens would support sending any troops was if there was a clear exit strategy with a date certain for their withdrawal. As a result, all Canadian soldiers will be on their way home by 2011.

And we've already seen how the lack of an exit strategy is making things worse in Afghanistan. Not only does the presence of foreign troops unite our opponents, but our seemingly endless presence also hurts our ability to elicit the support of key regional players like Russia and China. Maybe that's why over 80% of Afghans oppose an escalation of American troops in their country.

The good news from yesterday is that the Appropriations' Committee voted in an amendment from Congressman Sam Farr (D-CA) that pushes back on mission creep in Iraq. The amendment put Congress on record in support of President Obama's policy to withdraw all US combat forces from Iraq by August 2010 and all of the remaining US forces by the end of 2011. It also orders the Pentagon to provide Congress with a detailed month-by-month report on how the troops, contractors and equipment are being removed.

But we still need an exit strategy for US military action in Afghanistan. Luckily, there is still time to fill this dangerous gap. We must let Members of Congress know that Congressman McGovern should be allowed to offer his Afghanistan Exit Amendment on the floor of the House. And, once it's there, it should be passed overwhelmingly.

The Rules Committee takes up Congressman McGovern's modest proposal next Wednesday. Call your Member of Congress at (202) 224-3121 and urge them to support Rep. Jim McGovern's Afghanistan Exit Amendment. Let's help Congress take this modest step forward to prevent "Obama's War" from becoming Endless War in Afghanistan.