The peace movement is a shell of what it once was. Remember when 100,000 of us marched in Washington, D.C. to protest our government’s war mongering?
While our numbers have regressed, the government’s propensity for war has only increased. The military budget is sky rocketing, and who knows the number of wars where U.S. troops are fighting? Nevertheless, there are some of us who remain in the peace and justices trenches taking action and recognizing that tax dollars which go into the Pentagon’s trough are a theft from the poor, the misbegotten and social services budgets which provide us with real security.
Representative Steny Hoyer, the Minority Whip, is one of the most powerful legislators in Congress. A group of us has been protesting his role in supporting weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and his refusal to whip up other legislators to invoke the War Powers Act in order to end U.S. military involvement in the Saudi-led attack on the people of Yemen. It is criminal that Yemeni civilians are now suffering from air strikes causing thousands of deaths and the destruction of a country where cholera is rampant and famine is a reality.
It was decided we must try to meet with Hoyer or his national security advisor and express our outrage. However, it was impossible to arrange any such meeting, so a sit-in took place in January in his office in the Longworth House Office Building. Because of the sit-in, we were able to arrange a meeting with Daniel Silverberg, his national security advisor. And then we had a second meeting with Silverberg where we continued to pound the drum that U.S. support for the war in Yemen was immoral and illegal and that we expect our legislators to end U.S. military involvement in the poorest country in the Middle East.
Our first inkling that some progress was being made was on September 26 when the government informed the Yemen Five, who were arrested in Hoyer’s office in January, that their charges were dismissed before their October 2 trial. Then on this same day the government indicated it would not prosecute, Representative Ro Khanna announced he was introducing House War Powers Resolution, H. Con. Res. 138, a privileged resolution which would end U.S. military involvement in the Saudi-led war in Yemen. It was a surprise to discover that Steny Hoyer is a co-sponsor. We believe that our engagement with Hoyer’s office played a role in obtaining his co-sponsorship.
If there is doubt that citizen activists can have some influence, consider what Maria Gallagher and Ana Maria Archila accomplished when they admonished Senator Jeff Flake for supporting Judge Kavanaugh. It is standard operating procedure in Washington, D.C. for legislators to refuse to meet with constituents, as saying no in such situations is very difficult. So these survivors of sexual abuse took advantage of an unexpected meeting with a powerful senator and may have changed the course of history.
Now we are asking people to keep up the pressure on Rep. Hoyer so that this resolution first garners more co-sponsorships and that it eventually passes. The people of Yemen need us to act.
Consider signing on to the letter we will send to Daniel Silverberg. If you are moved to do so, please provide your city and if you are representing a group. Then commit to lobbying your representative to co-sponsor a resolution aimed at ending U.S. complicity in the Saudi-led war in Yemen.
Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 East 25th Street, Baltimore, MD 21218
National Security Advisor to the House Minority Whip
1705 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear Mr. Silverberg:
We appreciate that you have met with us on two occasions, and each time we welcomed your candor in the conversations. We will be seeking another meeting after the mid-term elections.
As you know, we have been urging you to convey to Congressperson Hoyer our outrage regarding U.S. involvement in supporting Saudi Arabia’s assault on the people of Yemen. We believe that you did convey our concerns. We were ecstatic that the House Minority Whip has taken action to end U.S. complicity in the Saudi-led war in Yemen by co-sponsoring and supporting the House War Powers Resolution, H. Con. Res. 138, introduced by Rep. Ro Khanna. The privileged resolution would end U.S. military involvement in the Saudi-led war in Yemen.
While we are thanking you and Rep. Hoyer, we are also urging you to convey our request to the Minority Whip that he should gather many more co-sponsors. We will do our part to convince members of the Maryland delegation to sign on as well. After November, with a Democratic majority in the House, H. Con. Res. 138 could pass in January, 2019. We would then be able to concentrate on getting our government to provide food, medicine and humanitarian care to the people of Yemen, especially families with children.
Thank you again for your leadership on this matter. We want to continue a relationship so that we can work together on other issues as well.
Dr. Gwen DuBois & Max Obuszewski