Defense & Foreign Policy
The Afghanistan war is now the longest running war in United States history. It is also an unwinnable war that has taken over 2,200 service members’ lives and cost taxpayers over $700 billion. In the wake of the September 11th attacks, the United States went into Afghanistan to eliminate a glaring threat to our national security: the safe haven and protection provided for Osama Bin Laden and al Qaeda by the ruling Taliban. Intelligence officials now estimate that there are fewer than 100 al Qaeda members left in Afghanistan. Congresswoman Speier believes the killing of Bin Laden in Pakistan by our talented and brave Navy SEAL troops was a moment of great success for our military and for the country.
However, our military, perhaps now more than ever, still lacks a clear mission in Afghanistan. Speier believes that now is the time to bring our troops home and focus on more targeted, strategic operations to root out enemies who threaten to carry out terrorist attacks. To that end, she is a co-sponsor of H.R. 200, which would limit further funding only to the efforts necessary to bring our troops safely home. Congresswoman Speier has consistently voted in favor of amendments on the House floor that would require President Obama to submit a plan to Congress outlining the timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan. These amendments would have required the President to begin the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan by July of 2011, as the President had originally proposed.
There are also significant questions about how to transition out of Afghanistan, and the ability of the government to sustain gains made during the U.S.’s presence. Afghan security forces are becoming more capable and effective, but the corruption and lack of confidence in the U.S. government will present significant challenges for the country moving forward. The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has found that many of the projects we’ve invested in are not being used or cannot be sustained by the Afghans after we are gone.
Pentagon spending accounts for more than 50 percent of the discretionary spending in the United States budget. Any plan to get federal spending on the right track must include cutting wasteful Pentagon spending. For years, Pentagon spending has skyrocketed at a breakneck pace, and Congresswoman Speier believes there are numerous opportunities to make smart cuts and strengthen our troops and our national security.
As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, Congresswoman Speier is committed to fighting against funding weapons programs that are outmoded, ineffective, and a waste of taxpayer money. She has been critical of Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program, which was delivered to the Navy with a door that could not shut out water that could flood the ship, and questioned the safety of weapon systems like the F-22, which deprived pilots of the oxygen they needed and contributed to the death of at least one pilot. The Department of Defense needs to be smarter at how it uses its resources. She has also highlighted wasteful spending on excessive prices for weapon system spare parts, including $71.01 for a straight pin the Pentagon already had for 4 cents, $1,678.61 for ramp gate roller assembly they already had for $7.71, and $644.75 for a spur gear they had previously purchased for $8.72. Congresswoman Speier also supports sensible reforms to the military pay and benefits system. It is time for Congress to rein in Pentagon spending into something that we can afford and sustain into the future.
Foreign aid makes up less than 1% of our budget, but it is one of our most effective policy tools. The United States is continuing to restore its image after years of bad decisions that have damaged our standing throughout the world and placed our national and economic security at grave risk. Congresswoman Speier believes in modernizing our foreign assistance programs to better address the global challenges of the 21st century, including terrorism, poverty, pandemic disease, climate change, energy security, failing states, food insecurity, slowed economic growth, and population and migration issues.