We are approaching a critical time as Congress comes back into session with a slew of hearings on Iraq, all in preparation for the next round of votes. Sometime in October, Congress will vote on what is now expected to be up to $200 billion to continue the war in Iraq. We have been in regular communication with Speaker Pelosi’s offices both in San Francisco and Washington, DC, and wanted to make sure she gets our members’ message before the next funding vote happens. I joined our Executive Director Jon Rainwater, board members Alpesh Patel and Sridharan Raghavan, and outreach staff Jahsiah Ault and David Carroll for a meeting with Speaker Pelosi’s District Director, Dan Bernal.
As many of you know, the leadership has said again and again that they are limited in what they can do because of the number of votes they have. We took this opportunity to share with the Speaker that our members and staff have been doing their utmost to help, by generating pressure on key members of Congress. David, our phone staff person who has generated the most calls to swing members of Congress, discussed his experience mobilizing voters in places like Utah, Nebraska and New Mexico.
We made it clear that regardless of the votes, our members expect bold leadership from Speaker Pelosi in holding the Bush administration accountable for this disastrous war. We told Mr. Bernal that our members are not naïve and understand the limitations of the political process, but want to see the congressional leadership take an aggressive stance toward ending the war. You can see the huge pile of letters our field organizers generated from Rep. Pelosi’s district (only a portion of the total) urging her to stay strong in the face of the Bush administration’s threats and rhetoric. While there are many possibilities for legislation to end the war in Iraq in the next couple of months, our delegation had a top priority: do not allow funding for the continuation of the occupation of Iraq unless it is used to fully fund the swift and safe withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.
I will be in contact with congressional offices in the next few weeks urging them to vote for an end to the occupation of Iraq, but we need your voices as well. If you haven’t done so already, sign our pledge saying you will not vote for, contribute to, or volunteer for any member of Congress who votes to continue the occupation of Iraq.