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National Peace Organizations Call on Congress to Stop Funding the Occupation of Iraq and Vote to Bring our Troops Home in 2007


March 15, 2007 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: David Swanson, After Downing Street 202-329-7847 (cell)

Kevin Martin, Peace Action, 301-537-8244 (cell)

Kevin Zeese, Democracy Rising, 301-996-6582 (cell)

Congress Dithers as Americans Across the Country Mark the Beginning of the Fifth Year of War and Occupation of Iraq

 

Silver Spring, MD — On the eve of the fourth anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq, national peace organizations including United for Peace and Justice, Military Families Speak Out, Code Pink: Women for Peace, Peace Action, Progressive Democrats of America, Democracy Rising, Voters for Peace, Democrats.com, After Downing Street, and the Backbone Campaign today called on Congress to use its power of the purse and pass binding legislation limiting funding to bringing our troops home from Iraq as quickly as possible in 2007, and to vote against the supplemental appropriations bill to continue funding for the war in Iraq unless it contains such a provision. All of these groups work together as part of or along with United for Peace and Justice, the country’s largest anti-war coalition with over 1400 member organizations.

 

The groups are united in opposing current Democratic leadership plans to continue funding Bush’s war well into 2008.  The Senate is poised to vote on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s proposal, a loophole-ridden joint resolution calling for a non-binding goal of completing the withdrawal of most US combat troops by March 31, 2008. At the same time, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi struggles to round up the votes for a $124 billion supplemental appropriations bill, the lion’s share of which would fund perpetuating the occupation of Iraq. Pelosi’s bill posits a withdrawal deadline of August 31, 2008. US Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) intends to offer an amendment to fully fund a safe and orderly withdrawal of US troops by December 31, 2007. This amendment has the support of the national peace groups, who are mobilizing grassroots constituent pressure in favor of it.

Progressive Democrats of America Director Tim Carpenter said, “Fully-funded safe withdrawal within a year is not an extreme position. It’s the position of 60% of the American people, according to last week’s USA Today-Gallup poll. And that position would be even more popular if Democratic leaders stood their ground and fought for ending rather than prolonging the occupation. Many Americans fear that a reckless President is threatening to expand his disaster into Iran . So do many Democratic leaders – but they lack the will to even assert Congressional authority on the matter of Iran.” Carpenter referred to the House Democratic leadership’s dropping of a provision in the supplemental appropriations bill earlier this week stating Bush cannot attack Iran without explicit congressional authorization.

“President Bush, who vows to veto legislation with any limits on his war-making authority, and Congressional Republicans’ single-minded, open-ended support for the war and occupation of Iraq is a cancer on our politics and a calamity for the people of Iraq and our troops,” said Kevin Martin, Executive Director of Peace Action Education Fund. “But Nancy Pelosi’s and Harry Reid’s job should not be to round up Democratic votes to continue to spend hundreds of billions of our tax dollars for another year and a half or more of Bush’s war. That’s not the mandate for peace the voters delivered last November.”

Even some self-described anti-war Democrats in Congress say they feel the need to vote for the supplemental appropriations bill in order to deflect charges from Vice President Dick Cheney and other Republicans that they are not “supporting the troops”.

“This is infuriating. How in the world is Congress ‘supporting the troops’ by continuing to send them to kill and die in an illegal, immoral, unwinnable quagmire?” asked Nancy Lessin, co-founder of Military Families Speak Out. “The House Leadership crafted this bill with loopholes allowing tens of thousands of U.S. troops to be left Iraq for years after the so-called withdrawal date in August, 2008, and allowing presidential waivers for troop readiness requirements. Real support of our troops is de-funding this war, bringing our troops home now and taking care of them when they get here.” Military Families Speak Out, Veterans For Peace, and Iraq Veterans Against the War recently sent a letter to Congress, available at www.mfso.org, telling Congress it could not both fund the war and claim to be ending it.

“Congress is debating a withdrawal timeline because of pressure from the anti-war movement, but the Democratic Party leadership appears more interested in positioning itself for electoral success in 2008 than in ending the war that kills dozens of people nearly every day. When our communities desperately need federal funds – our tax dollars – for health care, affordable housing, education and environmental protection, why are the Democrats lining up the votes to drain the treasury to continue Bush’s war?” asked Leslie Cagan, National Coordinator of United for Peace and Justice.

 

In contrast to Congress’s partisan political machinations, over 450 anti-war actions are planned across the country, starting this weekend. Please see www.unitedforpeace.org for a list of local actions planned.

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