U.S. President Barack Obama delivers a televised address on his plan to drawdown U.S. troops in Afghanistan from the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on June 22, 2011. UPI/Pablo Martinez Monsivais/POOL | License Photo
WASHINGTON, June 22 (UPI) -- Reaction in Washington to President Barack Obama's announcement Wednesday about withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan split largely along partisan lines.
Obama announced beginning next month 10,000 troops would come home before the end of the year and 33,000 would be withdrawn by next summer. The remaining 66,000 troops would be coming home at a steady pace through 2014 as the U.S. mission shifts from combat to support.
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said he was disappointed the president "seems preoccupied with troop levels and when to start his withdrawal based on political considerations and not what will best serve U.S. national security."
On the other side, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., said Obama "correctly laid out the next phase of our strategy … (and) In doing so he kept the commitment he made to the American people 18 months ago."
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said reducing U.S. troop strength in Afghanistan is the right thing to do.
"We invaded Afghanistan to end al-Qaida and with the killing of Osama bin Laden and his top lieutenants, we have accomplished our goal," Durbin said.
In the House, Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, urged Obama to listen to his military commanders to make sure the drawdown "does not undermine the progress we've made thus far.
"There is no doubt this conflict has tested the resolve of our nation, and I want to express gratitude to the American people for their faithful commitment to our troops and their mission," Boehner said. "As this operation enters its next phase, it is imperative that our commander in chief continues to explain why seeing it through to a successful conclusion is vital to our national interests."
Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi noted ending the war in Afghanistan "will enable us to reduce the deficit and focus fuller attention on the priorities of the American people: creating jobs and investing in our nation's future by building a strong, thriving economy for our children."
She said, however, not everyone is happy with Obama's timetable.
"It has been the hope of many in Congress and across the country that the full drawdown of U.S. forces would happen sooner than the president laid out -- and we will continue to press for a better outcome."