Washington (CNSNews.com) - House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said she supported legislation that would require President Barack Obama to set a timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan.
At a press conference on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Pelosi said she was backing an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2012, written by Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), which calls upon the president to set a withdrawal timetable.
“I will try to get time to speak for the McGovern amendment, which asks the president for a timetable [to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan],” said Pelosi. “As I've said to the president of Afghanistan, the American people are weary of war, this is too expensive. We'll do whatever it takes to protect the American people and ensure our national security.
“We want to know that what we're doing there does that. We want a timetable to bring the troops home,” said Pelosi who, in the past, advocated for ending the war in Afghanistan.
Obama and U.S. Gen. David Petraeus, the top commander of the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan, have said American troops will begin to withdraw from the nearly 10-year-old conflict this July, a promise that Obama made in December 2009.
They have also endorsed a plan to have Afghans in the lead of their own security by the end of 2014 while also maintaining a long-term U.S. commitment to Afghanistan after that date.
Petraeus and a top Pentagon official told lawmakers in March that, after the end of 2014, the United States is planning to maintain “joint” U.S.-Afghan military bases in Afghanistan and conduct “joint counter-terrorism operations” with the Afghan military.
After Osama bin Laden was killed, a bipartisan group of lawmakers headed by Reps. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) demanded U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan – a position they still hold.
“The success of this mission does not change the reality that America still faces a determined and violent adversary,” the congressmen stated in a letter sent to President Obama earlier this month.
“It does, however, require us to reexamine our policy of nation-building in Afghanistan,” the letter stated. “We believe it is no longer the best way to defend America against terror attacks, and we urge you to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan that are not crucial to the immediate national security objective of combating al Qaeda.”
Welch and Chaffetz are also offering an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act – debated on the House floor on Wednesday – that would “end the war in Afghanistan,” according to a press release.
“It is long past time to bring the war in Afghanistan to an end,” said the congressmen. “After 10 costly years, it is crystal clear that the U.S. strategy of nation-building in a corrupt country with a minimal al Qaeda presence is not working. Terrorism is a decentralized threat to America's national security and our counter-terrorism strategies should reflect that reality.
“The surgical mission that located and killed Osama bin Laden should be the model for America’s anti-terrorism policy worldwide,” they said.
At least 1,576 U.S. soldiers have died in Afghanistan since the start of the war there in October 2001. More than 60 percent of those deaths have occurred since President Obama was inaugurated in January 2009.