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      McGovern, Jones, Lee Ask for a More Rapid Withdrawal, Support Shift from US Combat Role

      House members led by Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) are circulating a moderate letter commending the Obama administration for announcing an end to the US combat role in Afghanistan in 2013, one year ahead of the previous timetable. Many of the signers supported an accelerated withdrawal in a resolution last year, which attracted 204 House votes.

      The letter and updated list of signators are below and at Friends Comittee on National Legislation:

      Dear Mr. President,

      We write to express our support for the Administration’s announcement on February 1st that the United States will complete combat operations in Afghanistan by the end of next year.

      From information reported in the media, the U.S. intends to transition from major combat operations in Afghanistan to a “training, advice and assist role” by the middle-to-latter part of 2013. We applaud this announcement by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to accelerate the transition away from combat operations, and it provides assurance that the timeframe outlined in your 2009 speech at West Point will be carried out. As you know, many of us support an even more rapid withdrawal of all our troops from Afghanistan.

      The majority of Americans want a safe and orderly military withdrawal from Afghanistan as quickly as possible, as recent public opinion polls indicate. The desire by the American people for an accelerated transition in Afghanistan was reflected in votes taken in Congress last year, in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate during their respective debates on amendments offered by Representatives McGovern and Jones and by Senator Merkley to the FY 2012 National Defense Authorization Act. These votes show there is strong bipartisan political support to take bold steps regarding U.S. policy in Afghanistan.

      The past 10 years have cost America dearly in the blood and sacrifice of our military servicemen and women and their families, and in our nation’s fiscal health and security. The United States intervened in Afghanistan to destroy al Qaeda’s safe haven, remove th Taliban government that sheltered al Qaeda, and pursue those who planned the September 11th attacks on the United States; those objectives have largely been met and no longer require a large presence of combat troops in Afghanistan. While questions remain about the details of the announced transition – when and how quickly U.S. troops will be coming home, the number and purpose of troops that might remain in Afghanistan and for how long a period, the costs and the savings of accelerating the completion of combat operations – the February 1st announcement clearly signals that now is the moment to initiate the transition, end the war in Afghanistan and bring our troops home.

      Sincerely, Members of Congress

      The 62 signers as of 2/16, 1:42PM are:

      Jim McGovern (MA)
      Walter Jones (NC)
      Barbara Lee (CA)
      Jimmy Duncan, Jr. (TN)
      John Garamendi (CA)
      Justin Amash (MI)
      Janice Hahn (CA)
      John Conyers, Jr. (MI)
      Raul Grijalva (AZ)
      Sam Farr (CA)
      Gary Peters (MI)
      Jesse Jackson, Jr. (IL)
      John Lewis (GA)
      Lynn Woolsey (CA)
      Judy Chu (CA)
      Lois Capps (CA)
      Henry Waxman (CA)
      Bruce Braley (IA)
      Ben Ray Luján (NM)
      Martin Heinrich (NM)
      Mike Honda (CA)
      Chellie Pingree (ME)
      Pete Stark (CA)
      Mike Thompson (CA)
      Bob Filner (CA)
      Barney Frank (MA)
      Keith Ellison (MN)
      Jackie Speier (CA)
      Ed Towns (NY)
      Jan Schakowsky (IL)
      Charlie Gonzalez (TX)
      Carolyn Maloney (NY)
      Gwen Moore (WI)
      Steve Cohen (TN)
      Charles Gonzalez (TX)
      Jim McDermott (WA)
      Niki Tsongas (MA)
      David Cicilline (RI)
      Jared Polis (CO)
      Tammy Baldwin (WI)
      Paul Tonko (NY)
      Mike Quigley (IL)
      Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX)
      Maurice Hinchey (NY)
      Anna Eshoo (CA)
      José Serrano (NY)
      Louise Slaughter (NY)
      Donald Payne (NJ)
      Zoe Lofgren (CA)
      Richard Neal (MA)
      Earl Blumenauer (OR)
      Grace Napolitano (CA)
      Pete Visclosky (IN)
      George Miller (CA)
      Adam Smith (WA)
      Rick Larsen (WA)
      Peter DeFazio (OR)
      Jerrold Nadler (NY)
      Suzanne Bonamici (OR)
      Laura Richardson (CA)
      Kurt Schrader (OR)
      Michael Michaud (ME)

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