MISSOULA, MT - In a conference call with state legislators from across the country, U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy said that pressure from state governments would be key in preventing President Bush's escalation plans from seeing the light of day.
Senator Kennedy drew a parallel between the minimum wage Â- which was increased by voters in six states last fall and in statehouses across the country last year Â- and the Iraq war in noting the importance of states putting opposition to the escalation on Congress's front burner.
Kennedy is sponsoring legislation in the U.S. Senate to require that the Bush Administration seek Congressional authority for any escalation. The conference call was organized by the Progressive States Network and co-sponsored by Women Legislators' Lobby, MoveOn, and Americans Against Escalation in Iraq.
Steve Doherty, co-chair of the Progressive States Network and former minority leader of the Montana Senate, explained the crucial role that state legislators Â- elected leaders who remain near their constituents year round Â- have served as a crucial moral voice in recent history.
"Some folks will say that foreign policy is not a responsibility of the states, but I saw during my own time in the legislature the difference we made Â- speaking out on Irish terrorism, supporting our troops, standing for fair trade. Elected leaders are supposed to stand up for their constituents Â- America needs us now more than ever," said Steve Doherty.
Prior to the call, resolutions opposing the escalation were being drafted and introduced in nearly ten states. Today, the Progressive States Network and its allies are working to get more resolutions introduced and to provide the legislators introducing them with the grassroots support they need to pass the resolutions.
"Since we have announced this campaign, the level of interest from legislators, from the grassroots, and from Congress has just been overwhelming. The resolutions are sprouting up all over the country. It's a sign of just how deeply flawed this escalation policy really is Â- that it is creating these types of grassroots alliances to fight it," said David Sirota, co-chair of the Progressive States Network and bestselling author of Hostile Takeover.
Opposition from legislatures is one facet in a much larger campaign to prevent President Bush's reckless escalation policy. For more information on the Progressive States campaign, President Bush's proposed escalation, a recording of the conference call, tools to contact your legislator and model state resolution language, please visit www.progressivestates.org/iraq
The Progressive States Network was founded in 2005 to drive public policy debates and change the political landscape in the United States by focusing on attainable and progressive state level actions. It accomplishes this mission by uniting policy makers with experts and grassroots organizations to provide the combination of efforts needed to advance good policy. It's board of directors includes representatives of MoveOn, AFSCME, SEIU, AFL-CIO, Center for American Progress, ACORN, and Media Matters for America.