House Moots Afghan
War, Military Budget and "Signature" Drone Strikes Exit, Iran
Wednesday, 16 May 2012 12:54
On Wednesday and Thursday, the House is expected to take up consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act. Amendments will be offered to expedite military withdrawal from
According to the way the House operates, the authorization bill is the most open opportunity to challenge current policy. When the House considers the appropriations bill, amendments can be offered to cut money for specific programs. But it is difficult to otherwise alter policy when the appropriation is considered, according to the rules of the House. On the authorization bill, there is much more scope to try to direct policy.
Every American who cares about war and peace ought to be calling Congress. The Friends Committee on National Legislation has established a toll-free number that connects you to the Capitol Switchboard: 1-877-429-0678. Then, you can ask to be transferred to your representative's office. (If you can't call, you can write here.)
What should you tell your representative's office? Whatever else you do, you should tell them that you are a constituent and give them your address to document that fact.
Then, you have some choices to make about what to emphasize. Many amendments have been offered. At this writing, we don't know which amendments will be allowed on the floor by the Rules Committee. Once the Rules Committee has decided which amendments it will allow, there might not be much time before voting begins. So, it's better to call when you can and emphasize broad themes.
For example, you could say: "I urge you to support amendments that would expedite
It is virtually certain that the Rules Committee will allow at least one amendment which would expedite
Rep. John Conyers is offering an amendment that would push back against the drive for war with
Representative Conyers is also offering amendments that would cut the military budget by terminating the F-35B, by moving ahead with retirement of 18 Global Hawk drones as proposed by the administration and by delaying the new long-range nuclear-capable bomber.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich, supported by Representative Conyers, is offering an amendment that would prohibit the military from carrying out drone strikes against unidentified targets. Senior
Judging from past years, most of the amendments that have been offered are not going to pass, and that's not surprising. If everyone already agreed on the underlying policy, in most cases, it would already be in the bill. But
But amendments that don't pass are also useful. They force members of the House to stand up and be counted on particular issues and raise the profile of concern about those issues. If they draw sufficient support, they send a signal to the administration of significant Congressional concern. If eighty members of Congress voted for the Kucinich-Conyers amendment to limit drone strikes, it would be historic, because Congress has never tried to limit drone strikes before. The administration would notice and that might lead them to be more cautious in expanding a policy that is already controversial inside the administration. And if that saved the lives of eight or twelve civilians in
Robert Naiman is policy director at Just Foreign Policy and president of Truthout's board of directors.
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs