While both houses of Congress still lag dramatically
behind the people of this country and Iraq in opposing
the war, we've recently seen a sharp rise in
Congressional willingness to talk about peace. Votes in
both the House and the Senate have forced members to go
on record on troop withdrawal, permanent bases, and
other war-related issues. More members than ever before
went on record for peace, or at least against the war
without end that Bush has been peddling. Your calls,
faxes and emails, your participation in public protests
have all helped to create significant movement in
Congress. They voted; now we have to hold them
accountable. It is critical that our elected
representatives know we are paying attention, and that
we will continue to pressure them to take action to end
the war in bring all the troops home, now!
No Permanent Bases For the second time this year, both
the House and Senate have voted overwhelmingly against
permanent bases in Iraq. It was a huge victory for the
peace movement, with a majority of Republicans voting
against the Bush administration. Even one pro-war
Republican, Rep. Bill Young (R-FL), had this to say
about the bases:
"It sends the wrong message. Not only to the people of
Iraq, not only to the people of America, but to the
people of other Muslim nations who might say ... hey,
are we next? Are we going to be occupied? Are we going
to have American troops in our streets?"
Bring the Troops Home On June 15, the House leadership
responded to the peace movement's calls for a debate on
the war. They gave us a carefully orchestrated series
of speeches on a bill that was pure propaganda for the
war. The Republican leadership is so afraid of the
antiwar movement that they refused to let even
Republicans offer alternative proposals to the Bush
policy. The only vote they allowed was on a simplistic
piece of propaganda in support of the war, freedom and
the U.S. troops.
In spite of the war mongers' best efforts, we can take
heart in the fact that 158 members of Congress voted
"no" (or lodged a protest "present" vote) to this
outrageous political maneuver. Still, 256 members of
Congress proved how out of touch they are with the rest
of the country by voting to support war without limit.
What Does This All Mean? If you just took the word of
the mainstream media, you might think there's been no
movement in Congress. But in fact, the change in the
Senate has been phenomenal. To understand how far we
have come, it is helpful to see where we were just a
few months ago, when the only antiwar legislation was a
very weak measure asking Bush to come up with a plan on
Iraq. That's all, just a plan ... and only two Senators
dared to support it!
Two weeks ago, we asked you to contact your Senators
and ask them to vote to end the war. Since then, the
Senate has voted on three different amendments calling
for the withdrawal of troops. Even the weakest of these
amendments was stronger than what we have seen
The strongest stand was taken by Senators Feingold,
Kennedy, Boxer, Kerry, Harkin and Byrd, who voted to
pull U.S. troops out of Iraq by the end of the year. A
weaker amendment sponsored by Boxer, Kerry and
Feingold, calling for the withdrawal of all troops by
next summer, got 13 votes. Although neither of these
amendments supports the UFPJ position of 'out now,'
Senators who voted for them should be thanked, and
encouraged to work for an immediate end to the war.
Sen. Levin's non-binding resolution calling for the
troops to begin to withdraw by the end of this year got
the support of 38 Democrats and one Republican. This
considerably weaker amendment still takes the Senate
closer to ending the war. Most Senators who supported
this amendment will now consider their work on the war
done. It is not. They need to be told that a vote for
the Levin amendment was not nearly enough.
The votes in the Senate and the House over the last
weeks leave the door open to us to push them farther
than they have been willing to go before to end the
war. We have to make the most of this opportunity to
let them know that the peace movement is watching them,
and we are not satisfied with theatrics and rhetoric.
We will only be satisfied with an immediate and
complete withdrawal of U.S. troops.