Bipartisan Bloc of Members Oppose Obama’s Afghanistan Plan

Posted March 17, 2009 at 1:53pm

President Barack Obama is facing bipartisan blowback from a clutch of House lawmakers on his plan to send 17,000 additional troops to Afghanistan.

A group of 14 Members on Monday sent Obama a letter opposing the military escalation, arguing the mission in Afghanistan has become a costly misadventure with no clear purpose.

“I have a sinking feeling we’re getting deeper and deeper into a war that has no end,— said Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), a leading liberal.

Rep. Walter Jones Jr. (R-N.C.), who earlier broke with his party to urge an end to the war in Iraq, said the lawmakers behind the letter want to make sure Obama doesn’t “make the same mistakes the previous administration made.—

While the group is small, Jones argued they represent the beginning of a broader resistance in Congress to the ongoing mission in Afghanistan.

He said the lawmakers who penned the letter felt it was important to go on record early with their opposition, predicting their ranks could grow by a factor of five by May. By then, Congress will be debating a supplemental spending bill to fund operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the lawmakers said they will seek to make future of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan a central fixture of that debate, possibly forcing the administration’s hand by denying funds.

“Congress’ ultimate power is the power of the purse,— said liberal Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), who led House opposition to the war in Iraq.

Other lawmakers signing on included Democratic Reps. Bob Filner (Calif.), Steve Kagen (Wis.), Neil Abercrombie (Hawaii), and John Conyers (Mich.) and Republican Reps. Howard Coble (N.C.) and Ed Whitfield (Ky.).