Mr. Chairman, I want to thank the leadership in both the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the House Armed Services Committee for their efforts to make Afghanistan a top priority and to focus on our challenges there. They've done a fabulous job.

I recently returned, during the last break, from a visit to Afghanistan. I am very optimistic about what's going on there but at the same time mindful of the effort that it's going to require in the years ahead to continue to succeed, and I believe this bill reflects an understanding of that required effort.
  
The Afghan people are on our side. They support the presence of the NATO troops to support the Karzai government. They do not want the Taliban to return, and they will fight them and appreciate our help in doing this.
  
I'm also very impressed with the job our military and the military of the NATO alliance is doing there. We have some of the most talented folks in our military there doing a fabulous job of fighting the Taliban. But as we go forward, there are remaining challenges, significant challenges.
  
Number one, we have to maintain the military presence. In fact, I believe we need more troops and further support to train the Afghan army and to fight off the Taliban as they try to resurge in the south and throughout the country.
  
But overarching all of this is the economic challenge. That is the enormous challenge in Afghanistan. It is a country that has never had the best economy, and it has also faced 30 years of civil war. Their infrastructure is destroyed and needs to be rebuilt. Their ability to govern has also been significantly reduced and needs to be rebuilt.
  
The Karzai government has the support of the people, but the people also want infrastructure. They want electricity, and they want jobs. They want alternatives to the poppies, alternatives to that as a way of making their living, and we have to give them a long-term commitment to show them that we will help. We need that long-term financial commitment that is contained in this bill to get them to believe that their economy will be strong again. We need to reward their faith in the Karzai government, their faith in our ability to defeat the Taliban and to build a better future for Afghanistan; and this bill does that.
  
So, again, I thank the chairman. I want to thank the ranking member as well for putting together this piece of legislation and ask all Members of Congress to understand this is a long-term commitment in Afghanistan.