?There has been a lot of tough talk from members of Congress about wanting to end this war, but it looks like the desire for political comfort won out over real action. Congress should have stood strong, acknowledged the will of the American people, and insisted on a bill requiring a real change of course in Iraq.? ?Senator Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.)
WASHINGTON (FinalCall.com) - The Iraq War funding battle is over for now, and “the war” won.
More precisely, Democrats who became the majority in both the House and the Senate because of their opposition to continuing the four-year-old war of aggression, surrendered to Pres. George W. Bush, who appears bent on waging the war indefinitely.
On May 24, Congress capitulated and dropped their benign demand that the funds the President needs to continue the war, must contain non-binding timetables for the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops.
Voting 280-142—with 86 Democrats, including three of the top four Democratic leaders supporting the war—the House approved the $95 billion Pres. Bush asked for last Feb. 5 to finance the war without restrictions until Sept. 30. The Senate approved the money 80-14, with presidential candidates Barack Obama (D-Ill.), and Hilary Clinton (D-N.Y.) both voting no.
“Congress took a new small step in the direction of accountability that the Americans have demanded in the war in Iraq,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters at the Capitol May 25. “I would have hoped for more, but it does represent a change in direction.” Ms. Pelosi voted against the appropriation, but her top lieutenants: Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.), and Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emmanuel (D-Ill.), all voted in favor of the war.
Earlier this year, Congress sent Pres. Bush that appropriation bill with time lines for the withdrawal of U.S. forces to begin Oct. 1, but the President vetoed that measure and Democrats, afraid of being portrayed as indifferent to the welfare of military personnel in battle, fell far short of overriding the veto in both chambers.
“There has been a lot of tough talk from members of Congress about wanting to end this war, but it looks like the desire for political comfort won out over real action,” said Senator Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) who was unsuccessful in his push for a withdrawal of combat troops by spring. “Congress should have stood strong, acknowledged the will of the American people, and insisted on a bill requiring a real change of course in Iraq.”
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), an avowedly anti-war presidential candidate also chastised his colleagues. “The Democratic Party has to choose,” said Mr. Kucinich, “between standing for peace or continuing to support war and occupation, between heeding the demand of the voters last November or caving in to the demands of President Bush and Vice President Cheney. We can’t have it both ways. We can’t facilitate the passage of another bill to fund the war and at the same time claim that we want the war to end. The public sees through such hypocritical maneuvering.”
If no more money is appropriated for the war, there are already enough funds in the pipeline to safely return all U.S. forces to this country, Mr. Kucinich points out.
The Constitutional answer to Pres. Bush’s insatiable appetite for war is impeachment. In February, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan called on two of the most respected members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) to lead that effort.
In early May, Mr. Kucinich introduced articles of impeachment. His proposal is slowly gaining support. Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), and CBC member William Lacy Clay (D-Mo.) are listed as co-sponsors of the impeachment resolution.
Minister Farrakhan warned in his Saviours’ Day address Feb. 25 in Detroit that Congress did not have the courage to stop the war in Iraq. CBC founder John Conyers (D-Mich.), who is also chair of the House Judiciary Committee which would have jurisdiction over an impeachment resolution, and CBC Chair Carolyn Cheeks-Kilpatrick were both in attendance. The U.S. has been deceived by the so-called “Neo-Conservatives” into an un-winnable position in Iraq, the Minister pointed out.
The Democrats, who now hold a majority of the seats in Congress came to power promising the public “what they cannot deliver,” said Minister Farrakhan. The House of Representatives should impeach the President and his entire administration for its “wicked policies,” and for “lying to America.”
“If you won’t impeach him, sanction him!” Minister Farrakhan insisted.
Wide majorities of Americans are firmly opposed to the war to the point that most regret that the U.S. ever invaded Iraq in the first place. Pres. Bush also has record low approval ratings, yet Democrats have surrendered again and again to even a weakened President on the war.
House Democrats instead claim legislative success elsewhere in summarizing their first five months in the majority. They take credit for the domestic provisions they added to the war-funding bill: including raising the minimum wage from $5.15 per hour to $7.25 per hour over the next two years; providing health insurance for needy children in 11 states; relief for victims of Hurricane Katrina and agriculture disaster assistance for drought-plagued farmers.
But Republicans attacked legislators who voted “no” for “surrendering” to America’s enemies in Iraq rather than for “surrendering” to the Pentagon and the U.S. President.
“I was very disappointed to see Senator Obama and Senator Clinton embrace the policy of surrender by voting against funds to support our brave men and women fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said in a statement. “This vote may win favor with MoveOn and liberal primary voters, but it’s the equivalent of waving a white flag to al Qaeda.”
While the number of Democratic House members has increased substantially over the 2002 census, the May 24, 2007 House vote on war funding was almost identical to the vote in October 2002 which first authorized the Iraq invasion and occupation. At that time, just as now, 60 percent of House Democrats voted against giving the President war authority in Iraq.
Rep. Clyburn, who was among more than a half-dozen members of the Congressional Black Caucus to vote in favor of continuing the war, took pains to explain to reporters his support for the war appropriation.
“I voted for it myself. I live in Columbia, South Carolina,” said Mr. Clyburn. “Fort Jackson and Shaw Air Force Base are in my home town of Sumter. When I go to my home and to the churches and when I go to the social events, I want to be able to, for every parent, every spouse, every child I meet to know that I stood there with them when they thought that I should.”
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