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Rubio, in Afghanistan: ‘We’ve got a lot to do’

Monday, January 17th, 2011 by Dara Kam

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and a handful of other Senators are winding up a four-day in Afghanistan and Pakistan where they met with military officials from both countries and dined with Afghan President Hamid Karzai last night.

From Kabul this morning, the freshman from Florida told reporters he was encouraged by what he saw but cautioned that “2011 is going to be a very crucial year for our efforts here.”

Rubio joined Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Marco Rubio of Florida, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, on the trip where they met with Gen. David Petraeus and also watched Afghan National Army training exercises.

Rubio said the Afghan people and government need assurances from the U.S. that “we are in it for the long haul” and discouraged setting numbers for U.S. troop withdrawal from the region.

“People want to make sure that we are in this to win this. We are in this for the long haul,” Rubio said. “Everyone on the ground is really enthusiastic about the progress that’s being made…There’s a long ways to go. There’s no way to overestimate how serious the challenge is but we are headed in the right direction.”

Benchmarks for U.S. withdrawal from the region should not focus on the number of troops returning but the number of areas that successfully transition to a functioning government, Rubio said.

“From everything I’ve seen here we are making physical progress,” he said, adding, “You can’t overestimate what a difficult challenge it is.”

Afghanis need assurances that the U.S. will remain because they are afraid that “the bad guys” will resume control of the region, Rubio emphasized.

“They’re afraid to vote. Theyr’e afraid to take jobs and work for the government or volunteer for the military…because …these bad guys are going to come back in and take over again,” he said. “You are really creating a diff situation because people think the bad guys, the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, all they have to do is wait.”

Meek defends missing Iraq-Afghanistan war funding vote

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010 by George Bennett

Democratic U.S. Rep. and Senate candidate Kendrick Meek, on a conference call with reporters, said he missed Tuesday’s vote on financing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan because it was originally scheduled for later in the week and moved up at the last minute.

Meek was campaigning in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach early Tuesday and didn’t get to Washington until it was too late, a spokesman said earlier today.

With Democrats increasingly divided on the U.S. presence in Afghanistan, Meek said he would have joined the majority in the 308-114 House vote for more money for military operations.

“My record stands clear, that I’ve supported the men and women in uniform,” Meek said on the conference call. He noted the large margin by which the bill passed and added that “there was not a threat that the funding was not going to be approved.”

Why Hastings opposed Afghanistan war funding bill…

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010 by George Bennett

Hastings

Hastings

U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar, voted against a spending bill Tuesday to continue financing the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The bill passed 308-114, with Hastings and 101 other House Democrats going against the wishes of President Obama.

Palm Beach County’s other House members — Democrats Ted Deutch and Ron Klein and Republican Tom Rooney — supported the bill.

Hastings Chief of Staff Lale Mamaux on Hastings’ vote:

Congressman Hastings joined a majority of his colleagues from the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) in voting against the supplemental appropriations bill. The Senate version of the bill that the House passed was stripped of critical domestic and CBC priorities (i.e. funding for teachers, police, and fire fighters, Pell Grants, youth summer jobs, TANF Emergency Contingency Fund, and settlement funds for the decades-old discrimination Pigford and Cobell lawsuits against the U.S. Department of Ag).

Furthermore, as it pertains to Afghanistan the Congressman believes that it is past time that we re-examine our strategy in Afghanistan. He is a co-sponsor of H.R. 5015, to require a plan for the safe, orderly, and expeditious redeployment of US Forces from Afghanistan. The legislation was introduced by Congressman Jim McGovern on April 14, 2010.

Hastings votes against Afghanistan-Iraq war funding bill; Meek misses vote

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010 by George Bennett

With Democrats increasingly divided on the U.S. presence in Afghanistan, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 308-to-114 late today for a supplemental spending bill that includes $37 billion for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

President Obama’s request got more support from Republicans (160 votes) than Democrats (148 votes). Local U.S. Reps. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, Ron Klein, D-Boca Raton, and Tom Rooney, R-Tequesta, voted yes. U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar, joined 101 other Dems and 12 Republicans in voting no.

U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, D-Miami, did not vote. Meek, who’s running for U.S. Senate, was campaigning in South Florida earlier in the day.

Click here to see the complete roll call.

Lawmakers react to General McChrystal ouster

Thursday, June 24th, 2010 by Dara Kam

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Here’s what some legislators who’ve served in the military had to say about President Barack Obama’s firing of General Stanley McChrystal, the loose-lipped former commander of the war in Afghanistan who got the boot yesterday over his tell-all interview with The Rolling Stone.

Sen. Mike Bennett, who served four tours of duty in Vietnam in the U.S. Navy, harshly criticized Obama in part because McChrystal had such a good relationship with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai and was making progress in the war although some critics question how successful the campaign has been thus far.

“I think both of them expressed very bad judgment. Two wrongs actually don’t make a right. I don’t think that telling the truth is something you should get fired over. He exercised extremely bad judgment. I think the president firing him was just as bad a judgment. He should have figured out another way to reprimand him,” Bennett, R-Bradenton said.

But Rep. Rich Glorioso, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel who spent 27 years in the military, disagreed.

“If I was the president I would have fired him also. Even if what he’s saying is absolutely correct, there’s a way for him to do that. But putting it out in a magazine like that..You can’t have a general do those kinds of things. It doesn’t lead to good order and discipline,” Glorioso, R-Plant City, said. “If it was one of my squadron commanders, I’d have fired him. You may not like the person but you have to respect the position. There’s a proper place for you to exercise your beliefs within the chain of command and that’s where it belonged.”

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Graber criticizes Obama’s Afghanistan strategy in Dem primary

Friday, December 4th, 2009 by George Bennett

State Sen. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, praised President Obama’s Afghanistan strategy as “thoughtful” during a Voters Coalition debate Thursday while his rival in a special Democratic congressional primary, Ben Graber, declared himself “against the escalation in Afghanistan” and opposed to “militarism” in general.

It was the most significant policy difference between the Dems vying to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Boca Raton. Both voiced support for a government-run public option as part of health care reform.

Three Republicans running in the special election were supportive of Obama’s call for 30,000 more troops. GOP candidates Ed Lynch, Joe Budd and Curt Price also took similar positions against tax hikes, gun control and a public option.

GOP Senate rivals Crist, Rubio on Obama’s Afghanistan plan

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009 by George Bennett

After three months of deliberations, President Obama on Tuesday night announced plans to send 30,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan and to begin withdrawing U.S. forces in July 2011.

Gov. Charlie Crist, seeking the Republican U.S. Senate nomination in 2010, reacted via Twitter late Tuesday and his GOP primary rival, former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio, weighed in early this morning.

Read their reactions after the jump……
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What they’re saying about Obama’s Afghanistan speech….

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009 by George Bennett

afghanPresident Obama tonight ordered 30,000 more U.S. troops to be deployed in Afghanistan and pledged to begin withdrawing forces in 18 months.

The president delivered a prime-time speech from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.

Some Florida reactions after the jump…..

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Rooney, House GOP join anti-war Dems on Iraq, Afghanistan $$ vote

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009 by George Bennett

Conservative freshman U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Tequesta, doesn’t often join with the likes of liberal Democratic U.S. Reps. Dennis Kucinich, Maxine Waters, John Conyers and Fortney H. “Pete” Stark. But Rooney and most of the House GOP were joined by 32 largely anti-war Dems in Tuesday’s vote on appropriating money for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The $106 billion measure passed 226-202, with 221 Democrats — including local U.S. Reps. Alcee Hastings, Ron Klein and Robert Wexler — in favor. All but five Republicans voted against the measure, objecting to an array of non-military measures added to the bill.

Statements by Rooney and Kucinich illustrate the odd coalition that voted against the bill.

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