What a shame. Today the House voted 368 to 60 to spend billions more of our tax dollars ($96.7 billion) for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. While we walked the halls of Congress all week urging a "NO" vote, Congressmembers were being lobbied hard by the White House to vote for it. President Barack Obama met with the Progressive Caucus to push the war funding, and each member who showed skepticism received phone calls from the White House.
"Did you know that President Obama is more popular than Jesus Christ?," Cong. Emanuel Cleaver asked us. "I didn't like this bill, but I voted for it. It's hard to stand up to such a popular president."
Fifty-one courageous Democrats (list below), however, did just that. "The pressure was intense," said freshman Cong. Donna Edwards. "But I just returned from Afghanistan and people there kept saying that the solution is not more troops but more development assistance."
Cong. Lynn Woolsey agreed. "This bill has no exit strategy," she told us, "and it allocates over 90% of the money for the military and less than 10% for development. This even contradicts General Petraeus' own counter-insurgency doctrine of 80% non-military and 20% military."
While we were outside Congress with the banner "Stop Funding War," Cong. Sheila Jackson Lee stopped to talk to us." "I must tell you ladies that I voted for the bill this time but I don't feel good about it and I plan to revisit this. I want to thank you for being out here and tell you that you need to keep doing what you're doing, keep the pressure on--in fact, turn it up. That's the only way we'll ever get out of these wars."
Next week the war funding will be voted in the Senate. So please take Congresswoman Lee's advice and turn up the pressure. Call the Congressional switchboard at 202-224-3121, ask for your Senators, and say--loudly and clearly--that you want him/her to vote against more money for war. Say you want a surge in negotiations and development assistance, not troops. For more help see talking points below.
We know--and you know--that war is not the answer. Let's help Obama and Congress move us on a new path.
Yes we can, yes we will--end war.
Allison, Audrey, Blaine, Dana, Desiree, Farida, Gael, Gayle, Janna, Janet, Jean, Jodie, Liz, Lori, Lydia, Medea, Nancy, Pam, Paris, and Rae
PS. If you haven't seen the courageous team of Desiree Fairooz and Medea Benjamin taking on Rumsfeld, don't miss it.
Here are some key talking points:
- At a time of economic crisis and multiplying domestic needs, the 2009 Supplemental is an appalling waste of our money.
- The Supplemental funds the increase of troops to Afghanistan, escalating the war rather than ending it.
The Supplemental places no restrictions on American bombings in either Afghanistan or Pakistan, despite the disproportionate harm to civilian inhabitants.
The Supplemental maintains a high level of American troops in Iraq for the duration of FY 2009.
Nay Votes on H R 2346, Supplemental Appropriations, 5/14/09
Neal (MA) Oberstar