Tell 27 Members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus: Stop Taking Campaign Contributions from Weapons Companies!
(January 16, 2021) — Tell 27 members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus to take Defunding the Pentagon seriously and STOP taking campaign contributions from weapons companies!
If elected representatives want to be known as “progressive” then prioritizing the needs of working people over the bottom line of companies like Raytheon and Northrop Grumman should be a no-brainer. Which is why we need members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus to live up to their progressive values and refuse to be bought off by weapons companies.
Members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus are supposed to be “fighting to rein in bloated Pentagon spending”. Then why, according to a study by the Security Policy Reform Institute, did 27 members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus take thousands of dollars in campaign contributionsfrom weapons companies and consistently vote to increase the Pentagon budget during the Trump administration?
Weapons companies like Raytheon and Lockheed Martin rely heavily on defense spending that is approved by Congress for their enormous profits. That’s a serious conflict of interest!
We’re gearing up to make 2021 the year that Defunding the Pentagon becomes a reality by making sure members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus refuse to be bought off by weapons companies. We’re also ringing in the new year with three creative actions to take on the war machine.
Sign up here to join the CODEPINK-style Inauguration Day social media presence on January 20th, the celebration of the illegality of nuclear weapons under international law on January 22nd, and the Global Day of Action to Stop the War on Yemen on January 25th.
It’s a new year and it’s more important than ever to Defund the Pentagon. Contact 27 members of the Progressive Caucus now and demand they stop taking campaign contributions from weapons companies and join CODEPINK creative actions on January 20, 22nd, and 25th to take on the war machine.
Carley, Cody, Nancy, and the entire CODEPINK team
A Letter to Congress: Progressives Are Supposed to Challenge Wasteful Pentagon Spending
Members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus are supposed to be “fighting to rein in bloated Pentagon spending”. Then why, according to a study by the Security Policy Reform Institute, did 27 members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus take thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from weapons companies and consistently vote to increase the Pentagon budget during the Trump administration?
Taking campaign contributions from some of the largest weapons manufacturers in the world presents serious conflicts of interest because these companies rely heavily on defense spending that is approved by Congress for their revenue. Lockheed Martin, for example, receives over 70% of their annual revenue by securing Pentagon contracts– which members of the Progressive Caucus must vote to approve or disapprove every year.
These weapons companies you take campaign contributions from literally make a killing on killing. In particular, Lockheed Martin has been directly implicated in providing weapons for the Saudi-led war on Yemen, including an incident in which a Lockheed Martin bomb killed 40 Yemeni school children and injured countless others. [See story below — EAW]
Raytheon Technologies has gone to great lengths to protect their bottom line, even if that means deliberately working against the will of the American people. After a poll showed that 82% of Americans agree Congress should end or decrease arms sales to Saudi Arabia, Congress was poised to pass a bill to end US weapons sales to Saudi Arabia–until Raytheon hired a lobbyist to influence our representatives against such a move. This kind of behavior reveals that Raytheon and weapons companies that use taxpayer dollars are only concerned about their bottom line.
As someone who wants progressive leadership to prioritize slashing the Pentagon budget, ending forever wars, and prioritizing working Americans over corporate interests, this is a matter of utmost urgency.
I urge you to pledge to stop taking campaign contributions from weapons companies and prioritize peace in Congress!
The Progressive Caucus Isn’t Living Up to Its Name — A Breakdown
(December 23, 2020) — We wanted to see how House members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) voted on military spending under Trump so we looked at the roll call votes for every National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) from fiscal year 2018 to FY2021.
*My analysis considers how CPC members voted on both the House version and final (‘conference’) version of each NDAA.
• Almost one-third of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) never voted against an NDAA during the Trump administration. (Since Obama’s last NDAA [FY2017], the annual Pentagon budget has increased by over $100 billion.)
• These 27 CPC members accepted on average $86,201 in war industry campaign contributions from 2017-2020, or 6.3x the average amount received by the 9 CPC members who voted againstevery NDAA under Trump.
More on Rep. Adam Smith (WA-09), here. Campaign finance data via Open Secrets, retrieved a couple days ago.
CPC members bad on foreign policy are more likely to be bad on health care
I also looked at which CPC members support Medicare for All. (For the purposes of this study, support = co-sponsor to the Medicare for All Act.):
• Support for M4A among the above 27 CPC members: 52 percent
• Support for M4A among the other 58 CPC members I looked at: 97 percent
Here are the nine CPC members who voted against Trump-era NDAAs 100 percent of the time
Representatives Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), and Rashida Tlaib (MI-13).
US Supplied Bomb that Killed 40 Children on Yemen School Bus
Yemeni children vent anger against Riyadh and Washington as they take part in a mass funeral for the 40 children killed in an air strike by the Saudi-led coalition.
Julian Borger / The Guardian
The 9 August attack killed 40 boys aged from six to 11 who were being taken on a school trip. Eleven adults also died. Local authorities said that 79 people were wounded, 56 of them children. CNN reported that the weapon used was a 227kg laser-guided bomb made by Lockheed Martin, one of many thousands sold to Saudi Arabia as part of billions of dollars of weapons exports.
Saudi Arabia is the biggest single customer for both the US and UK arms industries. The US also supports the coalition with refuelling and intelligence.
The investigative journalism site Bellingcat identified bomb fragments, on photographs and videos taken soon after the bombing, as coming from a laser-guided version of a Mk-82 bomb called a GBU-12 Paveway II. Based on marking on a fin segment of the bomb, Bellingcat traced the bomb to a shipment of a thousand of such bombs to Saudi Arabia, approved by the state department in 2015, during the Obama administration.
A spokesperson for Lockheed Martin referred questions about the bombing to the Pentagon. The defence department has said it does not make tactical targeting decision for the Saudi-led coalition but does provide support to improve targeting.
“I will tell you that we do help them plan what we call, kind of targeting,” the defense secretary, James Mattis, said. “We do not do dynamic targeting for them.”
The Bellingcat report cautioned that the bomb fragments had not been photographed where they had fallen, but had been gathered together, leaving open the possibility that they had been planted. CNN said it had worked with Yemeni journalists and munitions experts on its own identification of the bomb.
The Obama administration offered Saudi Arabia more than $115bn in weapons in the course of its two four-year terms, more than any previous US administration, according to a report in 2016.
After the bombing of a funeral hall in October 2016 that killed 155 people, Barack Obama halted the sale of guided munition technology to Saudi Arabia, on the grounds that improved precision would not save civilian lives if the Saudi-led coalition were not taking care to avoid hitting non-military targets. The sales were reinstated by the Trump administration’s first secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, in March 2017.
Saudi and US officials have insisted that efforts are constantly being made to limit civilian casualties in the campaign against Houthi rebels, but United Nations figures show the civilian death toll rising, with April this year becoming the bloodiest month of the war so far.
According to the most recent report by the UN high commission for human rights, there have been 17,062 civilian casualties since 2015, including 6,592 dead and 10,470 injured.
“The majority of these casualties — 10,471 — were as a result of airstrikes carried out by the Saudi-led coalition,” the report said.
The Trump administration has given unstinting support to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, echoing their portrayal of the Houthis as Iranian proxies. Congress, however, has become increasingly sceptical about continuing US arms sales to the coalition.
The ranking Democrat on the Senate foreign relations committee, Bob Menendez, has held up a sale of 120,000 guided munitions to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The administration could ignore his opposition and go ahead with the sale, but it would risk being over-ridden by the Senate.
“I think Congress could block this deal because it has just got so outrageous,” said William Hartung, the director of the arms and security project at the Centre for International Policy.
“The argument of the Trump administration and the Saudis is that the US is giving assistance in improving targeting, but more civilians have been killed in the last year than the year before. Whatever value that fiction might have had is now long gone.”
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