Maine Rep. Chellie Pingree, a Democrat, said Wednesday she plans to vote against $37 billion in emergency spending to fund wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Pingree’s position does not come as a surprise, but it does put her at odds with President Obama and his military advisers.

Members of the House are expected to take a final vote on the bill today.

In a telephone interview, Pingree said it is time to end the war in Afghanistan, which has dragged on for 104 months — longer than any other war in U.S. history.

“I’ve consistently been opposed to the war in Afghanistan,” said Pingree, who is a member of the House Armed Services Committee. “There have been too many lives lost and there doesn’t appear to be a strategy for success.”

Pingree, a first-term congresswoman who will be up for re-election in November, said the war is costing the United States about $7 billion a month.

“I don’t feel we are more secure here because of our involvement over there,” she said. “And we are in a huge economic crisis here at home.

“We have a very confused mission in Afghanistan that is often changing,” Pingree said. “We are doing a lot of things like rebuilding schools in that country that we can’t afford to do here at home.”

Pingree said the recent deaths of two soldiers with ties to Maine has renewed her constituency’s interest in the war in Afghanistan. This week, her office received a number of phone calls about ending the war effort.

“I just wanted to let people know where I stand,” Pingree added, explaining why she made a statement on the eve of the House vote.

Pingree and other legislators have been trying to convince House leaders to separate the war funding bill from the domestic program funding component — estimated at $24 billion.

“We shouldn’t be forced to vote on bills that combine funding for the war and for programs at home,” Pingree said.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland said this week that it is likely the bills on war funding and domestic programs will be done separately.

Pingree said she supports an immediate withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

She would like the adminstration to be more specific about its plans for troop withdrawal.

Gen. David Petraeus, who won unanimous Senate confirmation Wednesday as the next commander of the Afghanistan war, said at his confirmation hearing that a specific timetable would be unwise. He wants to make withdrawal of forces contingent on favorable conditions.

“I fundamentally disagree with the notion that more U.S. troops in Afghanistan will somehow make us safer here at home,” Pingree said. “We are pursuing a failed strategy in that country and have somehow confused nation building with fighting the war on terror.”

Fellow Maine Rep. Mike Michaud, also a Democrat, also will vote against the war funding legislation, according to his spokesman Ed Gilman.


Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

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