18 Lawmakers Speak Up At White House Afghanistan Meeting

October 6, 2009 1:10 p.m.

An administration official tells TPMDC President Obama heard from 18 members at the meeting today on Afghanistan in the State Dining Room.

“He made it clear that he wants to get their input – and will continue to get their input going forward,” the official said.

Obama told the 30 or so Congressional leaders present his decision-making process will be “rigorous and deliberate” but would also have a “sense of urgency.” He told them it was important to put in place a strategy that helps Congress make decisions about where to devote military resources.

“The president was clear that he will make the decision that he thinks will best prevent future attacks on the American homeland and our allies. He also made it clear that his decision won’t make everybody in the room or the nation happy, but underscored his commitment to work on a collaborative basis with the understanding that everyone wants what is best for the country,” the official said.Also discussed were an overview of the progress in the region and challenges ahead and the recent Afghan elections, with Obama telling lawmakers there’s been progress in targeting al Qaeda by working with the Pakistani government.

The official said Obama stressed the debate must be honest and asked critics to “dispense with the straw man argument that this is about either doubling down or leaving Afghanistan.”

As Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) left, he warned of the same thing.

The meeting was civil and lawmakers who chatted with reporters as they left said they are okay to give Obama more time to make his decision.

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