After the House Vote, What’s To Be Done?
There’s good news and bad news . . . and some great news.
The House Democratic leadership (which includes people who opposed the Iraq war from the start) decided that it was crucial to pass an Iraq supplemental with a timeline for withdrawal – even a slow one with loopholes – to get Bush and the Republicans isolated and on the defensive in support of an unpopular, unending, unwinnable occupation. It is a good thing that, for the first time, something approaching a deadline has been imposed on Iraq by a House of Congress.
The bill narrowly passed on Friday – because of the votes of progressive Out-of-Iraq Congress members who disliked many aspects of the bill. It may get weakened through Senate action; if not, Bush has pledged to veto it.
The bad news is that the House bill funds Bush’s troop surge and won’t bring our troops home until a Sept 1, 2008 “deadline” – with provisions allowing troops to stay in Iraq beyond that on vaguely-defined “training” or “anti-terrorism” missions. (That’s why a group of progressive Congress members – including Barbara Lee, Lynn Woolsey, Maxine Waters, Diane Watson, John Lewis and Dennis Kucinich – felt the need to stand firm and vote no.)
More bad news is the disunity stirred up among antiwar progressives in Congress by the House leadership’s arm-twisting and the intervention of MoveOn.org in support of the leadership’s arm-twisting.
But there is great news, and that’s what we should focus on:
While many antiwar Congress members shared with us their bruises and frustrations over Friday’s vote, they remain more committed than ever to get a debate on fully-funded unconditional troop withdrawal from Iraq within a year – a majority position among the American public. The House supplemental has a porous 18-month deadline; Out-of-Iraqers will work toward a tighter, firmer deadline.
In the coming weeks, progressives in the House will continue to fight for fully-funded withdrawal by the end of ’07 as part of the Defense Authorization and Appropriation bills. As well as provisions renouncing permanent US bases in Iraq and requiring Congressional authorization before any attack on Iran. (To appease Democratic hawks, House leaders dropped an Iran provision from the supplemental.)
On Monday, the Senate began debating its Iraq supplemental. Please call your Senator and urge them to strengthen, not weaken, deadlines – and to add a provision for Congressional approval before action against Iran. Switchboard is (202) 224-3121.
SO JOIN THE PEACE SURGE: We can start scheduling appointments now with our Congress members in their district offices during the Spring recess (April 2 -13).
Let’s join our allies in labor and religious communities in efforts to get “Blue Dog” Democrats and so-called “New Democrats” to start listening to their constituents. They are diverting tax money from pressing domestic needs to wasteful Iraq spending, and refusing to look at polls that show most Iraqis want U.S. troops out and believe that attacking U.S. soldiers is justified. Given the deceitful invasion, Abu Ghraib and other abuses, U.S. military force is no solution in Iraq.
Dozens of PDAers witnessed the House vote on Friday from inside the Halls of Congress. We met with principled allies in Congress, some who voted yes on the supplemental and some who voted no. They are united now. And PDA strengthened its own ranks by organizing all weekend at its National Leadership Conference.
It’s time to step up: We can bring our troops home from Iraq – and prevent a new war with Iran.
Progressive Democrats of America is a grassroots PAC that works both inside the Democratic Party and outside in movements for peace and justice. Our goal: Extend the victory of Nov. 2006 into a permanent, progressive majority. PDA’s advisory board includes six members of Congress and activist leaders such as Tom Hayden, Cindy Sheehan, Medea Benjamin and Rev. Lennox Yearwood. More info: http://pdamerica.org/.
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