[From Leslie Cagan of United for Peace and Justice]
Every member of Congress is focussed on Iraq right now. The voting will begin as early as today in the Senate and House on amendments and bills to withdraw troops from Iraq and otherwise change U.S. policy in Iraq. It is imperative that Congress hear from the peace movement that we will NOT be satisfied with the halfway measures they are considering. While it's great that more members of Congress from both major political parties are saying they disagree with the President, we need to make sure our clear demands are not lost in the shuffle: We want all of the troops brought home, now!
As we said in the action alert we sent out on Monday, the immediate problem is that too many members of Congress may support a troop reduction but settle for a modified version of the U.S. occupation of Iraq. They may vote to bring "combat" troops home, but allow Bush to keep tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers in Iraq to "fight terrorism," protect U.S. installations, and train Iraqi troops. And they are doing nothing to address the growing numbers of U.S. mercenaries involved in the occupation -- mercenaries now outnumber troops in Iraq. (Read this recent article in the Los Angeles Times for more details: ) [For this article plus additional background, see here.]
We urge you and your group to do what you can to encourage as many people as possible to flood Congress with phone calls this week. Their phones should be ringing off the hook!
Pass this message along to your members and to any other email lists you might have access to. Be sure to include these few talking points:
* I know you will be faced with a number of votes on Iraq in the near future. I want you to support only measures that will bring all U.S. troops and military contractors home from Iraq immediately.
* Do NOT allow any troops to be left behind.
* Halfway measures to bring some troops home from Iraq are not acceptable -- a long-term U.S. troop presence in Iraq will only further destabilize the country and the region.
Call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask to be connected to the offices of your senators and representative. Find out who your members of Congress are here.
[Pierce County residents can call their representatives locally at these numbers: NORM DICKS (6th Cong. Dist.): 253-593-6536. ADAM SMITH (9th Cong. Dist.): 253-896-3775. DAVE REICHERT (8th Cong. Dist.): 1-877-920-9208 or 206-275-3438. SEN. PATTY MURRAY: 253-572-3636. SEN. MARIA CANTWELL: 253-572-2281. -- Phone numbers for offices in Washington, D.C.: NORM DICKS (6th Cong. Dist.): 202-225-5916. ADAM SMITH (9th Cong. Dist.): 202-225-8901. DAVE REICHERT (8th Cong. Dist.): 202-225-7761. SEN. PATTY MURRAY: 202-224-2621. SEN. MARIA CANTWELL: 202-224-3441 --A.D.J.]
Below is a some more background information -- please feel free to share this widely.
The situation is changing rapidly, so check our website for updates: www.unitedforpeace.org/congress
National Coordinator, UFPJ
The Senate will take up the $648 billion Defense Authorization Bill this week, and will consider a number of Iraq related amendments including troop readiness standards, timelines for combat troop withdrawals, revoking authorization for the war and more. The exact language of most of these amendments is not yet available, and we cannot be certain of the timing of the votes. We can be certain that the Senate will vote a number of times this week on Iraq, so they must hear from us starting today!
Speaker Pelosi has promised that the House will vote on a number of Iraq measures starting tomorrow (Thursday) with a bill to redeploy troops from Iraq by April '08. The House will likely take up the supplemental appropriation bill ($145 billion for Iraq/Afganistan) later this month.
Votes in July on Iraq will be the prologue for a showdown on more funding for the war in September. That's when Congress will vote on $145 billion for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Congress will adjourn on August 3 for a month long recess, giving peace and justice activists across the country another opportunity to make the case in their local communities for an end to the war and occupation. Check www.unitedforpeace.org/congress for resources and ideas for August actions in your state or district.