Florida Delegation Divides on Party Lines Over Sending More Troops to Afghanistan

Splitting on party lines, members of the Florida delegation continued to offer their take on President Donald Trump’s speech on Monday in which he proposed a new direction for American military operations in Afghanistan.

On Tuesday, Republicans from the Sunshine State continued to support Trump’s call to send more troops to Afghanistan where American forces have been active for 16 years making it the longest military conflict in U.S. history.

While he has often been critical of Trump, U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla., supported Trump’s decision. “When I visited our heroes serving in Afghanistan last year, I met many men and women who are sacrificing time with their families and risking their lives to fight terrorism, advance our country’s interests, and stabilize the region,” Curbelo said on Tuesday. “I support the president’s commitment to a strategy in Afghanistan based on conditions on the ground and the advice of military officials instead of artificial deadlines and political considerations. Our troops deserve to know we will provide them the resources they need to be successful, which means being ready for any situation they face, defeating the enemy and then returning home. We cannot allow their sacrifices, and those of all who have served in this conflict, to be in vain. “More broadly, this policy announcement recognizes that while our country cannot serve as the international police, we do accept our responsibility as the last remaining super power‎ to fight terrorism and promote peace,” Curbelo added. “A world in which America leads is safer and more prosperous for all.”

U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., the vice chairman of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, also supported Trump in a post on Facebook on Tuesday night.

“The president’s address to the nation last night, announcing his new strategy in the Middle East, was well-delivered. I was impressed with the clarity of his mission, his desire to give our military the tools they need, and the decision to remove the bureaucratic restraints placed upon the military by the Obama administration,” Yoho noted. “Ideally and constitutionally we shouldn’t be involved in any country or engage in nation building. However, due to the failures of previous administrations, there isn’t an easy way to remove ourselves from Afghanistan without it becoming a haven for terrorists.

“I agree with the president that we must hold governments accountable, bring them to the table, and collectively eliminate individuals who engage in terrorist acts against humanity,” Yoho continued. “His statement was clear and direct, we do not have unlimited resources, and we will not write a blank check for others security. We will meet countries at their level of commitment.

We will not tolerate other countries duplicitous rhetoric which says they are fighting terrorism, while at the same time they are harboring terrorist networks within their borders (e.g., Pakistan and Afghanistan). President Trump made it very clear that you are either with us or against us.

Those nations need to come to the table and do their part to stabilize their own countries. They need to pick up the baton and work with us to create the type of country that works best for their people. He was right to put Pakistan and Afghanistan on notice and send a message to terrorists that we are coming for them." Yoho closed with kind words for the president.

“In Donald Trump, we have a commander in chief in the White House that will do what is necessary to rid the U.S. and the world of radical terrorists,” Yoho insisted. “President Trump’s speech last night showed leadership that has been lacking in recent years and demonstrated that he will use the tools necessary to end these atrocities plaguing the civilized world.”

While Republicans continued to back Trump, Democrats from Florida lined up against him.

“President Trump has a responsibility to the American people to explain his strategy to end our nation’s longest war,” said U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., on Tuesday. “Instead, last night he pledged a longer and larger commitment in Afghanistan without providing even the most basic details, including the additional number of troops he plans to deploy. After 16 years of war in Afghanistan, it is abundantly clear that this conflict cannot be solved strictly by military means. Yet, the Trump administration has failed to fill a number of key diplomatic positions. While we certainly need to address changes to our strategy in Afghanistan, rather than lay out a clear and specific plan, the president is asking us to trust him – and he has given us every reason not to.”

Noting that Trump said Americans are “weary of war without victory," U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., insisted “Americans are weary of war, period" and opposed sending more troops to Afghanistan.

“Our country has waged a seemingly never-ending war in Afghanistan, at a cost of thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars,” Hastings said. “The American people deserve to know what President Trump is asking of their sons and daughters. In that regard, the president’s address was unacceptably vague. By refusing to detail the number of troops he will deploy or the missions they will be tasked with, the president has positioned himself to drag out our nation’s longest military conflict indefinitely, in sharp contrast to his statements on the campaign trail. “Further, in openly declaring the end of American-led democracy building, President Trump has doubled down on his administration’s abdication of leadership across the globe,” Hastings continued. “As the ranking Democratic member of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, I have long championed democracy and human rights reforms in nations making the difficult transition towards free and open societies. In announcing this decision, President Trump has given authoritarian despots tacit approval to continue abusing and violating the rights of their citizens with impunity. “This address underscores the importance of passing a new AUMF dictating a clear and coherent strategy for American military engagements in Afghanistan,” Hastings concluded. “Congress has the constitutional authority to lead this conversation, yet for too long has ceded this immense responsibility. Speaker Ryan must making passage of a new AUMF the first priority when the House of Representatives returns to session.”

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