Thursday, March 15, 2007

So Congress will you Fund or De-Fund the Iraq War? Supplemental Appropriations Bill Begins Today

When you phone today to discuss and urge our Representative Congress to action; below is a list of some of the concerns you are likely to hear from the Staffers who will likely be taking your phone calls.

Please call the Capitol switchboard (ask for the office of your Representative) at 800-828-0498, 800-459-1887 or 800-614-2803 as often as you can between now and when they vote on the House Supplemental Appropriations bill next week. Tell your Congressional Representative about your personal connection to this war, and how important it is that they act now to use their 'power of the purse' to end the funding that will allow this unjustifiable war to continue.


The House Supplemental Appropriations Bill: “U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans’ Health and Iraq Accountability Act” These talking points cover why Military Families Speak Out is urging a “no” vote on this bill:




• President Bush submitted his supplemental budget request to Congress in February, 2007 for approximately $93 billion to continue the war in Iraq.

• The House Leadership, headed by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, crafted this supplemental budget request into a funding bill that will most likely be voted on in the Defense Appropriations Committee on Thursday, March 15 and come before the full House of Representatives sometime during the week of March 19. March 19 th is the 4 th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq

• The House Supplemental Appropriations Bill as written would give funds to President Bush to continue the war in Iraq.

• The House Leadership is trying to get all Members of Congress who oppose the war in Iraq to support this House Supplemental Appropriations Bill, which they named the “U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans’ Health and Iraq Accountability Act”. They claim it has the following provisions which are supposed to support our troops and bring about the end of the war in Iraq, but their claims are not supported by the facts:



Claim: Troop Readiness Requirements: no funds can be appropriated to deploy any unit of the Armed Forces to Iraq unless the unit is fully trained, equipped and “mission capable”
Reality: The bill includes a provision that allows the President to waive troop readiness requirements



Claim: No Extended Deployments: no funds can be appropriated for extending the deployment of the Army, National Guard or Reserves beyond a 365-day deployment, or a Marine unit beyond a 210-day deployment
Reality: The bill includes a provision that allows the President to waive the prohibition on extended deployments



Claim: Rest Period Between Deployments: no funds can be appropriated for deploying any Army unit that has been deployed within the previous 365 consecutive days, or an Marine unit that has been deployed within the previous 210 consecutive days
Reality: The bill includes a provision that allows the President to waive the specified rest periods between deployments



Claim: Requirements for Iraqi Government Progress: if the Iraqi government isn’t making substantial progress by October 1, 2007 and again by March 1,2008 in making the country secure, democratic and reducing sectarian violence, the Secretary of Defense shall commence the redeployment of the Armed Forces from Iraq within 180 days.
Reality: The bill allows the President to unilaterally certify “Iraqi Government Progress”



Claim: Date Certain for U.S. Withdrawal from Iraq: combat troops out of Iraq by August, 2008 at the latest
Reality: With three U.S troops dying each day the war continues, August, 2008 is not an acceptable deadline for withdrawal of US troops. It is not bringing our troops home now. Furthermore, the bill allows U.S. troops to remain in Iraq after the August, 2008 withdrawal date if they are “engaging in targeted special actions limited in duration and scope to killing or capturing members of al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations with global reach” [note: the
terms “limited in duration and scope” are undefined in the bill]; and/or if they are “training members of the Iraqi Security Forces”. This provision could be used to keep tens of thousands of U.S. troops in Iraq for years
to come.





• The House Supplemental Appropriations bill as written would allow thousands of additional US troops and untold numbers of Iraqis to die before the U.S. occupation of Iraq is ended.

• The Supplemental Appropriations bill as written is really about positioning the Democrats for the 2008 election, not about bringing our troops home quickly and safely.

• It is wonderful that the House Leadership is putting more funds than the President asked for, specifically targeted toward military and Veteran’s health care. However, by providing the funds to continue the war in Iraq, they are ensuring that there will be thousands more troops whose lives will be damaged or destroyed, who will be wounded, who will return with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, who will be at risk of long-term health problems from exposure to Depleted Uranium.


• It appears that many in Congress, including self-described “anti-war” Members of Congress, feel the need to vote for the House Supplemental Appropriations bill in order to deflect charges from Vice President Dick Cheney and others that they are not “supporting the troops”. These Members of Congress seem more afraid of a newspaper headline than they are about the reality that three U.S. troops and countless Iraqi children, women and men are dying each day this war continues.


• As military and Gold Star families, no one is more concerned about the safety and well-being of our troops than we are. It has been our sons, daughters, husbands,wives, brothers, sisters, fianc├ęs, partners, grandchildren, cousins, nieces, nephews,mothers and fathers on the front lines of this war; our loved ones who have and are paying the price for it.


• We know the President’s supplemental budget request is not about providing funding for our troops – he is seeking funding to continue this war that is so damaging to our loved ones and all of our troops.

• The most important thing Members of Congress can do to protect those who swore an oath to protect us all, is to vote against the House Supplemental Appropriations bill that will provide President Bush with funding to continue the war in Iraq.


• As military families, we have learned that there are funds available to bring our troops out quickly and safely. If more is needed, funds from the Department of Defense budget could be re-programmed for this purpose.

• Congress needs to understand that by continuing to fund this war, and leaving our loved ones in Iraq, they are abandoning them.


• Congress can not both oppose and fund this war.

• Members of Congress may be afraid for their political futures, and afraid of being “swift-boated” if they were to vote to de-fund the war. We are afraid for the lives of our loved ones. We are afraid that if we are lucky enough to get our loved ones home, they will return with wounds both physical and psychological. We are afraid that our loved ones who return will never be the loved ones we knew before they deployed.


• The Constitution gave Congress the ‘power of the purse’ for a reason. The unjustifiable war in Iraq is just such a reason. President Bush is not going to end this war. It’s up to Congress to bring this misbegotten war to an end.


• It is time for Members of Congress to support our troops by voting against the funds that allow this war to continue.

• To Members of Congress we say: if you vote to continue funding the war in Iraq, it will no longer be President Bush’s war. It will be yours. If you fund it, you’ve bought it and you own it. And we will remember.


• We are asking Congress now to show the courage and leadership that our loved ones have shown when they signed up to defend the Constitution of the United States.


• Ending this war is the right thing to do. And Congress can make this happen. We call on Congress now -- Don’t abandon our troops! De-fund this war!


Note: Information about the “Barbara Lee Amendment”: Congresswoman Barbara Lee has put forward an amendment to the Supplemental Appropriation bill that would limit the use of the appropriated funds to spending for a fully-funded safe and orderly withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. It would further set a firm deadline for withdrawal of December 31, 2007. As we write these MFSO Talking Points, there is uncertainty about whether or not Congresswoman Lee’s amendment to the House Supplemental Appropriations bill will be allowed to be put forward in the House Appropriations Committee deliberation of the measure on Thursday, March 15 on the House floor when the measure comes to the full House of Representatives next week (the week of March 19).

While it would be wonderful to have this amendment to the House Appropriatons bill be introduced, accepted and become part of the bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, there is little chance of this happening. Therefore, the core message Members of Congress need to hear now is: Support our troops, de-fund the war, and vote against any funds for continuing the U.S. military occupation of Iraq.

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