Nancy Lessin and Charley Richardson / After Downing Street.org – 2007-04-27 23:26:09
(April 15, 2007) — Both the House and the Senate have passed Supplemental Funding bills. The House version has a “deadline” of August 31, 2008 for withdrawing US troops from Iraq. This is completely unacceptable and would mean the deaths of over 1,000 more US troops and tens of thousands of Iraqi children, women and men.
To make matters worse, the bill has a provision that would allow the President to keep tens of thousands of troops in Iraq even beyond that unacceptable deadline. The Senate version has a suggested withdrawal date of March, 2008. Both versions provide President Bush with the funding he has asked for to continue the war.
The next step is for a Conference Committee to reconcile the two different bills (which will mean a compromise between the House and the Senate bills), after which the new version will be submitted to both the House and the Senate for a vote. The President has said that he will veto any funding bill that in any way limits his ability to continue the war.
• The supplemental appropriations bills passed by the House and Senate last month, as well as the compromise version expected in late April, will not end the war in Iraq. The most important thing Congress can now do is to vote against any version of a Supplemental Appropriations bill that provides President Bush with funding to continue the war in Iraq.
• The administration and other supporters of the war have tried to use “funding for the troops” as a cover for continuing the war. Congress needs to understand that by providing funding to continue the war, they are abandoning our troops. The most supportive thing that can be done for our troops is to end the war, bring them home now and take care of them when they get here.
• Many in Congress who have spoken against the war actually voted for the Supplemental Bill, saying that it is a step in the right direction. To these Members of Congress who compromised their principles because the bill has a so-called “deadline” for troop withdrawal, we say: not one step backward. The compromise version that emerges from the Conference Committee will most likely be weaker than the House version.
We say to Members of Congress: You have already compromised too much with the lives of our loved ones and lives of others at risk,, and any move to support a bill weaker than the one the House passed would be betrayal of our troops, their families and our nation.
• It is totally unacceptable for anyone in Congress to suggest that we should wait until the 2008 presidential elections to end the war in Iraq. It is unconscionable for the lives of our troops and Iraqi children, women and men to be used for positioning in an election strategy. Congress has the ‘power of the purse’ now to end this war.
• If Congress votes to continue funding the war in Iraq, it will no longer be President Bush’s war. It will be theirs. If Congress funds it, they’ve bought it and they will own it.
• The Bush Administration’s claim that the supplemental funding must be passed by mid-April or funds will run dry is simply false. Congressional Research Service, the non-partisan public policy research arm of the United States Congress, has issued a report stating that there is funding for the troops is available in the current budget that would last into July, 2007. Congress could also pass a supplemental funding bill that provides additional funds for the safe and orderly withdrawal of our troops.
• Despite the Administration’s claims that they now need additional funding for “the troops”, the fact is that our troops have been doing without since the beginning of this misbegotten war, thanks to an administration that does NOT support our troops. Our troops were sent off to a war based on lies, many without adequate equipment, body armor, armored vehicles, supplies, even food and water.
Some troops still lack armored vehicles and equipment; military families are still spending our own money to send our loved ones off with essentials such as Global Positioning Systems, night vision goggles and more. The problem hasn’t been lack of funds, it has been an Administration that does not care about our troops.
• The funding our troops need is for their safe and orderly withdrawal from Iraq (with all the supplies, equipment, armor, etc. required) and for the care they need when they come home. We call on Congress to use the Supplemental Appropriations bill to do just that. Fund our troops – their safe and orderly withdrawal from Iraq and the care they need when they come home – and de-fund the war!
• There are several members of the House and Senate who are proposing or sponsoring stand-alone bills that would cut off funds for the war and/or set deadlines for ending the war. These are not substitutes for turning down the President’s Supplemental Appropriations request for funds to continue the war in Iraq.
In order become law, a stand-along bill would need a vetoproof, 2/3rds majority in both houses of Congress. Denying the President his Supplemental Appropriations request for funds to continue the war would only take a “no” vote of 50% plus one, in either house of Congress.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, for example, recently stated that if President Bush vetoes the Supplemental Appropriations bill, he will pursue legislation that would end funding for combat operations on March 31, 2008.
In addition to allowing the war to continue for another year and having loopholes allowing tens of thousands of troops to stay in Iraq beyond the “deadline”, a stand-alone bill like this would require a 2/3rds vote of both houses of Congress to override a certain Presidential veto.
Because of this, Senator Reid’s proposal is really a posturing statement that is more window-dressing for the 2008 elections rather than a serious strategy for ending the war in Iraq.
To end the war in Iraq, Congress must stand firm now with the Supplemental Appropriations bill, refuse to give the President any more funds to continue the war, and press ahead for full funding for a safe and orderly withdrawal from Iraq and the care our troops need when they come home.
Nancy Lessin and Charley Richardson are co-founders of Military Family Speaks Out. For more information visit Military Families Speak at www.mfso.org. MFSO is an organization of people opposed to the war in Iraq who have relatives or loved ones in the military. Our membership currently includes over 3,000 military families, with new families joining daily.