WASHINGTON, DC - Congressman John Garamendi (D-Walnut Creek, CA) and (Ethiopia 1965-67) who is a member of the House Armed Services Committee, today voted for two amendments that would end the war in Afghanistan and set a timetable for withdrawal from Afghanistan.

John voted for an amendment authored by Obey and McGovern that requires the President to present Congress with a new National Intelligence Estimate on Afghanistan by January 31, 2011 and a plan by April 4, 2011 on the safe, orderly and expeditious redeployment of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, including a timeframe for the completion of the redeployment. By a vote of 162-260, it did not secure a majority vote. Garamendi also voted for an amendment by Rep. Barbara Lee that would restrict funding in Afghanistan to only what is necessary to have a safe and orderly withdrawal, protect soldiers and contractors on the ground, and carry out diplomatic and humanitarian activities. By a vote of 100-321, it did not secure a majority vote.   

Congressman Garamendi issued the following statement about his perspective on America’s policy in Afghanistan and Iraq:

“As a Member of the House Armed Services Committee, and as a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, I believe that the best national security strategy is to be economically strong at home and to deploy “smart power” abroad. We must carefully balance our diplomacy, development, and defense strategies.

“After extensive deliberation and study, I remain convinced that our policies toward Afghanistan and Iraq are inappropriate.  We’ve been in Afghanistan for nine years, making it the longest war in our nation’s history, and it’s come at a tremendous cost. We’ve tragically lost more than 1,100 American lives and spent close to $300 billion. We’ve also been in Iraq for seven years, where we’ve lost more than 4,400 American lives and spent more than $700 billion.

“I support policies that promote economic development and social progress in Afghanistan, Iraq, and throughout the region. As a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, I’ve seen with my own eyes that an American hand extended in friendship can transform hearts and minds in the developing world. In countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, with desperate poverty and underdeveloped economies, our humanitarian assistance can go a long way.

“I do not think that we strengthen our national security by continuing and expanding the counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan. I also support an enhanced withdrawal from Iraq.

“I recognize that the threat from Al Qaeda is very real. With our allies across the globe, we must have a laser like focus on eliminating Al Qaeda’s leadership, disrupting their training efforts, and attacking them wherever they are located. This must be our priority.

“Every dollar spent on war is a dollar not available for job creation in America, our schools, paying down the deficit, or helping those afflicted by natural and man-made disasters. The more than $30 billion allotted for the Afghanistan war could employ 300,000 teachers in schools across America.

“Regardless of where we may stand on war policy, we must always honor the troops. I have the utmost respect for our brave men and women in uniform, heroes who risk everything to keep America safe and secure. It is an honor and privilege to serve Travis Air Force Base and the thousands of military personnel, veterans, and their families that call California’s 10th Congressional District their home. They deserve everything we can provide to make sure that they can thrive in uniform and in civilian life.”

Congressman Garamendi is also a cosponsor of Rep. McGovern’s H.R. 5015, a bill that requires the President to provide Congress with a plan for the safe, orderly and expeditious redeployment of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.