Last Sunday, at the Riverside Church, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once eloquently opposed the Vietnam War, Presidential candidate and former Senator John Edwards urged Congress to deny funding to President Bush’s escalation in Iraq: “If you’re in Congress and you know this war is going in the wrong direction, it is no longer enough to study your options and keep your own counsel. Speak out, and stop this escalation now. You have the power to prohibit the president from spending any money to escalate the war – use it.”
Yesterday, on Capitol Hill, three Congresswomen not only spoke out powerfully on the issue of escalation, but also – with characteristic leadership, courage and determination – laid out a principled alternative to the Bush Way Forward into continuing human catastrophe. And, at this critical moment, it offers all citizens who care about peace the opportunity to rally around a single, rational proposal for withdrawal.
Rep. Lynn Woolsey stood with fellow Congressional Progressive Caucus co-Chair, Rep. Barbara Lee, and the Chair of the Out of Iraq Caucus, Rep. Maxine Waters, to introduce the Bring Our Troops Home and Sovereignty of Iraq Restoration Act.
“We are a triad to be dealt with,” Rep. Woolsey said. “And we will be heard from.”
The three Representatives outlined the first bill to comprehensively lay out the cost and framework for a withdrawal from Iraq. It calls for bringing the troops home within six months of enactment and describes in detail US involvement to help stabilize Iraq following withdrawal. It accelerates the training of a permanent Iraqi security force during the six month transition and provides funding as necessary to ensure the safety of the troops and contractors during withdrawal. It also authorizes – if requested by the Iraqi government – US support for an international stabilization force. Finally, it guarantees full health care funding – including mental health benefits – as our veterans deserve. And it does all of this for pennies on the dollar compared to continuing the occupation which is draining the nation of needed resources.
“This will be the centerpiece of advocacy for all of the peace groups that will converge on Washington on January 27,” Rep. Waters said.