This was a vote on an amendment by Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) that would have prohibited funds provided by a Defense Department funding bill from being used for a U.S. taskforce intended to spur new business opportunities in Afghanistan. This amendment was offered to legislation providing annual funding for Defense Department programs.
McCollum urged support for her amendment: “Our brave military men and women have been in Afghanistan for 10 long years confronting the Taliban, killing terrorists, and helping secure a better future for the Afghan people. When in the course of this long war did it become the Department of Defense's role to facilitate business opportunities for Afghan and foreign companies?...The Pentagon's focus should not be on starting up businesses or facilitating business development tours for corporate CEOs. Economic development is an important part of America's overall strategy in Afghanistan, but that is the role of civilian agencies like USAID, the Department of State, or the Department of Commerce.”
Rep. Bill Young (R-FL) opposed McCollum’s amendment: “Now this Task Force for Business and Stability is part of that operation to try to maintain stability once we clear out and neutralize the Taliban once again. The mission of the task force is to assist the commander of U.S. Central Command in developing a link between U.S. military operations in Afghanistan and economic elements of U.S. national power in order to reduce violence, enhance stability, and to restore economic normalcy in Afghanistan through business and economic opportunities such as agricultural diversification and energy development.”
The House rejected McCollum’s amendment by a vote of 167-260. Voting “yea” were 134 Democrats—including a majority of progressives—and 33 Republicans. 204 Republicans and 56 Democrats voted “nay.” As a result, the net effect of this vote was to allow Defense Department funds to be used for a U.S. taskforce intended to spur new business opportunities in Afghanistan.