Rep. Jason Chaffetz passed a bipartisan amendment out of a committee to restrict troop operations in Afghanistan to “targeted” counterterrorism efforts and commence a plan for major troop withdrawal.
Chaffetz introduced an amendment to the House Rules Committee yesterday that would call for the President to establish a plan to commence troop withdrawal in Afghanistan. The amendment would allow for a contingency of troops to be active for the Secretary of Defense to use for targeted counterterrorism efforts in the country, but for the most part would pull U.S. combat forces out of the country.
“We have 100,000 troops there, participating in not just counterterrorism efforts” Chaffetz told the committee. “I fully support the counterterrorism; I worry about the nation building.”
When asked by Rep. Pete Sessions, Vice-chair of the committee about defunding the current operations, Chaffetz countered that the war effort had gone on too long without clear goals. “The president has failed to define success,” Chaffetz said.
Several other congressman have proposed similar amendments to the Defense budget as a means of giving lawmakers a route to steer policy in the region. It’s expected elements of different amendments may be combined into one before the amendment is debated on the floor later this week. One advantage to the amendment Chaffetz proposed was the fact that the amendment is co-sponsored by Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vermont, a veteran democrat who is also the Deputy Whip for the party. The amendment passed favorably out of the committee.
Chaffetz argued also that the amendment would at least give the administration flexibility for smaller-scale operations. “Terrorism is a global problem. It’s not going to just stay within the borders of Afghanistan and Pakistan. We’re going to have to fight that fight,” Chaffetz said. “What this amendment does is still allow the president to do that, but in counterterrorism type operations.”