House rejects bid to pull troops from Afghanistan

March 11, 2010

WASHINGTONWASHINGTONRICHMOND, Va. — - Congressional opponents of the war in Afghanistan forced a debate Wednesday on the floor of the House of Representatives on a resolution to bring U.S. forces home and end the eight-year-old war. The measure ended up losing, 356-65, a margin that had been expected. Nonetheless, anti-war representatives welcomed the debate as a chance to express pent-up frustration with the continued troop buildup in Afghanistan, and to express their view that the original mission of U.S. forces, defeating al-Qaida, had been lost. The debate took place as Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, on a visit to Afghanistan, suggested a drawdown of U.S. forces could begin before July 2011, the date the Obama administration said a U.S. troop surge would peak and forces would begin to withdraw. Rep. Donna F. Edwards, the only Maryland member to vote for the withdrawal, said she supported the resolution because the U.S. was no longer fighting al-Qaida in Afghanistan. "This Congress has an obligation to send a strong message to the White House that the war must come to an end," she said. "Who are we fighting? Over the course of this time, this war and its mission and its goals have morphed and morphed and morphed." Five Republicans joined 60 Democrats in supporting the measure to force a troop withdrawal. Opposing the resolution were 189 Democrats and 167 Republicans.

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