Welch targets Afghanistan nation building program in Pentagon spending bill

Friday, July 8, 2011

Scott Coriell
202.225.4115 (o)
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WASHINGTON, DC – Rep. Peter Welch on Thursday continued his effort to end the war in Afghanistan and reduce Pentagon spending with an amendment to cut $200 million from an Afghanistan nation building program. The House voted late last night 169 to 257 against the Welch amendment.

Welch’s amendment to the Department of Defense Appropriations Act (H.R. 2219) targeted the Commanders’ Emergency Response Program (CERP), which funds nation building projects in Afghanistan. According to an audit by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), half of the CERP projects reviewed were unsustainable and fell into disrepair following their transfer into Afghan hands. Additionally, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee recently published a report describing the effectiveness of U.S. aid to Afghanistan as “limited.”

“It simply makes no sense to be spending $2 billion a week on nation building in Afghanistan when there are fewer than 100 Al Qaeda in the country and Americans are struggling to make ends meet,” Welch said. “Terrorism is a real threat, but it is decentralized not nation based. CERP projects are an integral part of the failed nation building strategy in Afghanistan. This is a common sense place to cut unnecessary Pentagon spending.”

The House on Friday finished debate on H.R. 2219, which sets the Pentagon budget for fiscal year 2012. Welch opposed the measure, which passed by a vote of 336 to 87.

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