The following letter from Terry Rumsey, Chairperson of Delaware County Wage Peace & Justice, appeared in the Friday, August 24, 2007, Delaware County Daily Times:
Congressman Joe Sestak (Democrat, CD 7) is clear about every issue concerning the Iraq war except one â€” how to end it.
Back in March of 2007, Joe voted for a bill that linked funding for the Iraq war to an August, 2008 deadline for removing U.S. soldiers from that war-scarred nation. The bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a margin of 218-212. A few weeks later, the U.S. Senate passed similar legislation, setting up a confrontation with George Bush. As expected, Bush vetoed the legislation. The moment of truth had arrived. Could Congress stand against the White House propaganda assault and fulfill the wishes of the American people to end this long and bloody war?
Unfortunately, the answer was no.
In the U.S. House of Representatives, 85 Democrats and 194 Republicans voted to give President Bush $94.5 billion to continue the war in Iraq â€” without establishing a deadline for withdrawing our soldiers. Joe Sestak was one of the 85 Democrats to join the Republican majority in providing Bush with the money to escalate the war in Iraq. He defended his vote on the grounds that a challenge to Bush would create a logjam that halted the flow of dollars to Iraq, and thus endangered the troops in the field.
At public meetings, Joe often asks impatient anti-war activists if we can trust George Bush to protect our soldiers during a political deadlock with Congress. I have a question in response. Is Joe Sestak willing to trust the American people to stand behind the demand for a deadline? Joe feels that the anti-war majority cannot prevail in a showdown with Bush. He has decided that a head-on collision with the President that involves funding is too risky and confrontational. Joe has announced that he will work in Congress to muster a “veto proof” majority against the war that includes substantial numbers of Republicans. In reality, he has conceded that the war and occupation in Iraq will continue for another two years until a new President, presumably a Democrat, enters the White House.
It is clear that Joe Sestak is a man of principle and integrity. His analysis of the U.S. debacle in Iraq is cogent and well-articulated. He has consistently promoted legislation to redeploy troops safely out of Iraq. To his credit, he has been tireless in his willingness to appear at public events to dialogue with constituents. Joe Sestak is a good representative â€” and a good leader.
However, he needs to reconsider his reflexive opposition to using the power of the purse to end the war. This power to provide â€” or deny â€” funding for the war is the only leverage that anti-war representatives in Congress have in the struggle with an imperial President. If Joe could persuade enough Republicans to vote to end this war without precipitating a funding crisis, we would all gladly support that strategy. He can’t.
More than 600 U.S. Soldiers have been killed in Iraq since Joe took office in January. At the current rate, over 1600 will have fallen before his first term has ended. There will be another vote on supplemental war funding in September. Joe made the right decision last March when he voted to link any additional war funding with a deadline for withdrawing troops. We are asking him to repeat that vote this September â€” veto threat or no veto threat. It time for Joe Sestak to take a risk to end this war. It is time to say “enough” and to save the lives of U.S. soldiers who are being used as pawns by George Bush.
Delaware County Wage Peace & Justice