WASHINGTON (CN) – The House of Representatives voted 308-114 Tuesday to approve a $58.8 billion war spending bill for U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan amid debate over the necessity of U.S. troops in Pakistan, a discussion fueled by the recent leak of 92,000 war documents.
The supplemental appropriations bill, approved by the Senate last week, now goes to Obama for signature. The bill would provide funding through Sept. 30.
The House voted on the measure Tuesday as the war debate reignited following the release of 92,000 on-the-ground reporting documents about the war in Afghanistan by the website WikiLeaks, which alleged that the Pakistan intelligence agency had been supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Reps. Ron Paul, R-Texas, and Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, took to the House floor to defend their proposed resolution to remove U.S. forces from Pakistan by the end of the year.
Kucinich claimed that Congress never authorized sending U.S. troops into Pakistan, and urged representatives to pass a resolution under the War Powers Act directing the president to withdraw troops.
“What I’m trying to do here,” Kucinich said, “is to stop expanding the U.S. footprint in Pakistan so that we stop an expanding war.”
“To the best of my knowledge,” Paul said, “14 al-Qaida leaders have been killed and the rest of them have been civilians.” He said the hostilities have gone on too long. “If you check with the people of Pakistan, they don’t want us there,” he said.
“These are people … who want to have in the majority a strong relationship with America,” Rep. Michael McMahon, D-N.Y., said of Pakistanis.
“Removing our personnel from Pakistan would present al-Qaida with a gift that it desperately needs and convince it, and the world, that it is winning the fight,” Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., said.
Rep. Howard Berman, D-Calif., chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said there was no factual basis for invoking the War Powers Act because the troops are not engaged in hostilities in Pakistan, but are undergoing other missions. “Any attempt to cut the military ties between our two countries would be counterproductive for our national security interests in the region,” Berman said.
“The reports in recent days that elements of the Pakistani intelligence service may have been aiding our enemies is nothing new to those of us who have been following this issue and is not a reason to abandon our many friends in Pakistan,” Berman said.
“We are not engaged in hostilities in Pakistan,” McMahon said, “and therefore this resolution is misguided it is dangerous it sends the wrong message.. and I urge all of my colleagues in this House to oppose it.”
The proposed measure to withdraw troops failed with a 38-372 vote.