Congressman John Garamendi

Representing the 3rd District of California
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Garamendi Rejects "a Blank Check for Any War Anywhere" During House Vote on Pentagon Spending Bill

May 26, 2011
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman John Garamendi (D-Walnut Creek, CA), a Member of the House Armed Services Committee, who represents over 10,000 Servicemembers at Travis Air Force Base and thousands of workers at Lawrence Livermore and Sandia National Laboratories, today opposed a Pentagon spending bill, because it continues the war in Afghanistan, and because irresponsibly expands an Authorization of Use of Military Force (AUMF), granting the President limitless authority to declare war without Congressional approval. The legislation passed by a 322-96 vote.

Garamendi joined a bipartisan coalition of Members of Congress, including Representatives Justin Amash (R-MI), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Ron Paul (R-TX), John Conyers (D-MI), Walter Jones (R-NC), Jerry Nadler (D-NY), and Tom McClintock (R-CA) in leading the opposition against Section 1034. Their amendment to strip the AUMF language from the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) failed by a 187-234 vote.

"Today Congress voted to grant the President limitless authority to declare war without Congressional approval – authority President Obama said he does not need or want. I am saddened that 234 of my colleagues have signed a blank check for any war anywhere," said Congressman Garamendi. "I’m cautiously optimistic that the U.S. Senate has a better understanding of the intent of our Constitution."

Garamendi also supported two amendments related to Afghanistan. One amendment introduced by Representatives Peter Welch (D-VT) and Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), which was based on language Garamendi introduced at the Armed Services Committee two weeks ago, would have removed all troops from Afghanistan not responsible for counter-terrorism. That amendment failed by a 123-294 vote. The other amendment, introduced by Representatives Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Walter Jones (R-CA), would have required the President to provide Congress with a plan and timeframe for negotiations leading to political reconciliation in Afghanistan. That amendment failed by a 204-215 vote.

"With Bin Laden dead, Al Qaeda’s training camps in Afghanistan destroyed, and fewer than 100 Al Qaeda operatives left in Afghanistan, we have largely completed our mission in Afghanistan. Spending $120 billion a year to maintain 100,000 troops fighting in Afghanistan’s internal civil war on behalf of the corrupt Karzai government is not the way to keep America safe," said Congressman Garamendi. "I voted today to enhance our national security by insisting we refocus our efforts toward targeting Al Qaeda and other terrorists like a laser wherever they take root."

"While there was much in the NDAA worthy of support, including funding for the noble work being done at Travis Air Force Base and the Livermore national labs, I cannot in good conscience vote for any bill that continues unnecessary warfare," added Garamendi, who was the sole dissenter to the NDAA at the Armed Services Committee hearing earlier in the month. "The people of the 10th Congressional District and the majority of Americans want us to bring the troops home from the longest war in American history, and I do too. I will not – I cannot – back down from my solemn promise to do all I can to end the war in Afghanistan."