May 3, 2011

Boehner: Afghanistan now more important

Boehner: Afghanistan now more important

From NBC's Shawna Thomas

House Speaker John Boehner sees the death of Osama bin Laden as proof that U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and Pakistan is a necessity for the country’s safety. "It's important that we remain vigilant in our efforts to defeat terrorist enemies and protect the American people,” he said during a late afternoon press conference at the Capitol. “This makes our engagement in places like Pakistan and Afghanistan more important not less.”

Surrounded by most of the Republican leadership in the House, Boehner began with talk of unity. “The tragic events of 9/11 10 years ago remind us that we’re all Americans and that what unites us as Americans is far greater than what divides us.” He honored the troops and the intelligence community, as well as those who died on September 11, but he and three other members who spoke -- Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy and GOP Conference Chair Jeb Hensarling -- all seemed to express a renewed commitment to American armed forces. Their choice of words was striking in the context of the continued spending debate. (Remember, the Defense Department was appropriated billions more than what it got last in fiscal year 2010 in last month’s compromise, but is a huge piece of the spending pie that will have to be dealt with.)

Hensarling, who was last to speak, congratulated President Obama, while reminding everyone that the war isn’t over. “One thing that has not changed after today is that the price of liberty remains eternal vigilance,” he said.

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