Thursday, June 23, 2016

Voting For Peace... Or Not


Barbara Lee says no wars without congressional approval; Fred Upton disagrees

Last week the House passed the 2017 Defense Appropriations bill. As part of the debate, Barbara Lee (D-CA) offered an amendment that would prohibit the use of funds for the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force, a blanket excuse any president-- Clinton or Trump-- could use to attack anyone, anywhere without seeking constitutionally-mandated congressional approval. Congresswoman Lee's amendment was defeated by warmongers from both parties 146-274. Although 17 Republicans joined 129 Democrats in supporting Lee, a disgraceful 51 Democrats joined the 223 Republicans who opposed her.

Among the bad Democrats were all the usual suspects from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party, the New Dems and Blue Dogs, of course. Four of them are running for the Senate this year: Loretta Sanchez (Blue Dog-CA), Patrick Murphy (New Dem-FL), Ann Kirkpatrick (New Dem-AZ), and Tammy Duckworth (IL). And then there were all the walking garbage cans in the House: Hoyer (MD), DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Lujan (NM), Donald Norcross (NJ), John Delaney (MD), Henry Cuellar (TX), Ami Bera (CA), Pete Aguilar (CA), Brad Ashford (NE), Kyrsten Sinema (AZ), Kurt Schrader (OR), Dan Lipinsky (IL)... all the worst Democrats in Congress.

One Republican who was not among the Republicans crossing the aisle to vote for peace and constitutional government was Central New York's John Katko, who often tries to pass himself off as vaguely mainstream. He isn't-- and he voted against Rep. Lee's amendment. His opponent for the Syracuse-based seat, Eric Kingson, was quick to respond:
The War Powers Act was passed for a reason. By allowing never-ending war based on an Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) passed 15 years ago, we are eroding a fundamentally important check on the power of the executive branch. Congress should show some actual courage, taking crucial votes on whether or not to grant the President the power to wage war, rather than abdicate that power in fear that their vote on a war will come back to bite them later.

This is another example of Rep. Katko lacking that courage. He lacks the courage to denounce Donald Trump's hateful rhetoric. He lacks the courage to take on the NRA and pass common sense gun reforms. And he lacks the courage to provide crucial balance in our government in fear of actually being held accountable for his votes.
DuWayne Gregory, the progressive Democrat running for Long Island's South Shore seat that has been occupied by Peter King, is more scrupulous about the constitution than King is. King voted with his fellow Trumpists last week. Duwayne disagreed. "The 15-year-old war powers authorization approved by Congress in the aftermath of 9/11," he explained, "was never intended to be permanent and no president, regardless of party affiliation, should have open-ended, unchecked power to wage new wars without the consent of Congress. Its time to get back to the checks and balances the Founders intended."

No one doubted Lamar Smith (TX-21-- Austin/San Antonio corridor) would oppose Rep. Lee's amendment. The response of Tom Wakely, his Democratic opponent, shows the clear differencebetween the two candidates. "What Lamar is essentially stating to his constituents is he's perfectly fine with the idea of making it easier for someone like Donald Trump to send our troops into harm's way, so long as Congress doesn't have to do any work. The concept is simultaneously so bloodthirsty and lazy. They're essentially abstaining from responsibility to their constituents and our armed service members. Congress is afraid to have any substantive debate on the ongoing ISIS conflicts, and would rather kick the can down the road than reevaluate our defense strategy. When Congress seemingly votes against its own interests, the public needs to take notice."

  Another Republican always trying to deceive his constituents into believing he takes a vaguely mainstream approach is Fred Upton-- who actually did once take a mainstream approach... a coupke decades aho. He's long since sold out to the extremists and, needless to say, he was a pro-war vote last week when Lee's amendment came up. Paul Clements, the security-conscious progressive with serious feelings about the U.S. Constitution noticed as well. Last night he told us that we could "count the ways the Republican Congress is failing. It is long past time for Congress to reclaim power to fulfill its constitutional obligation, to decide when our country will go to war. So why did Congressman Upton oppose the Barbara Lee amendment that would have done just that? This is a fundamental abdication of responsibility.This time, just possibly, it could give Donald Trump the power to send Americans to war. We need to elect a Congress that will do its job."

We sure do! Please consider helping progressives in Michigan, New York and Texas vote war-mongers like Upton, King, Katko and Smith out of office so they can be replaced by more serious-minded represenattives, Paul Clements, DuWayne Gregory, Eric Kingson and Tom Wakely.
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