A little over a month ago, 70 House Dems wrote to Bush:
Dear Mr. President:
We are writing to inform you that we will only support appropriating additional funds for U.S. military operations in Iraq during Fiscal Year 2008 and beyond for the protection and safe redeployment of all our troops out of Iraq before you leave office.
More than 3,600 of our brave soldiers have died in Iraq. More than 26,000 have been seriously wounded. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been killed or injured in the hostilities and more than 4 million have been displaced from their homes. Furthermore, this conflict has degenerated into a sectarian civil war and U.S. taxpayers have paid more than $500 billion, despite assurances that you and your key advisors gave our nation at the time you ordered the invasion in March, 2003 that this military intervention would cost far less and be paid from Iraqi oil revenues.
We agree with a clear and growing majority of the American people who are opposed to continued, open-ended U.S. military operations in Iraq, and believe it is unwise and unacceptable for you to continue to unilaterally impose these staggering costs and the soaring debt on Americans currently and for generations to come.
Rep. Lynn Woolsey (CA); Rep. Barbara Lee (CA); Rep. Maxine Waters (CA); Rep. Ellen Tauscher (CA); Rep. Rush Holt (NJ); Rep. Maurice Hinchey (NY); Rep. Diane Watson (CA); Rep. Ed Pastor (AZ); Rep. Barney Frank (MA); Rep. Danny Davis (IL); Rep. John Conyers (MI); Rep. John Hall (NY); Rep. Bob Filner (CA); Rep. Nydia Velazquez (NY); Rep. Bobby Rush (IL); Rep. Charles Rangel (NY); Rep. Ed Towns (NY); Rep. Paul Hodes (NH); Rep. William Lacy Clay (MO); Rep. Earl Blumenauer (OR); Rep. Albert Wynn (MD); Rep. Bill Delahunt (MA); Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC); Rep. G. K. Butterfield (NC); Rep. Hilda Solis (CA); Rep. Carolyn Maloney (NY); Rep. Jerrold Nadler (NY); Rep. Michael Honda (CA); Rep. Steve Cohen (TN); Rep. Phil Hare (IL); Rep. Grace Flores Napolitano (CA); Rep. Alcee Hastings (FL); Rep. James McGovern (MA); Rep. Marcy Kaptur (OH); Rep. Jan Schakowsky (IL); Rep. Julia Carson (IN); Rep. Linda Sanchez (CA); Rep. Raul Grijalva (AZ); Rep. John Olver (MA); Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (TX); Rep. Jim McDermott (WA); Rep. Ed Markey (MA); Rep. Chaka Fattah (PA); Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (NJ); Rep. Rubin Hinojosa (TX); Rep. Pete Stark (CA); Rep. Bobby Scott (VA); Rep. Jim Moran (VA); Rep. Betty McCollum (MN); Rep. Jim Oberstar (MN); Rep. Diana DeGette (CO); Rep. Stephen Lynch (MA); Rep. Artur Davis (AL); Rep. Hank Johnson (GA); Rep. Donald Payne (NJ); Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (MO); Rep. John Lewis (GA); Rep. Yvette Clarke (NY); Rep. Neil Abercrombie (HI); Rep. Gwen Moore (WI); Rep. Keith Ellison (MN); Rep. Tammy Baldwin (WI); Rep. Donna Christensen (USVI); Rep. David Scott (GA); Rep. Luis Gutierrez (IL); Lois Capps (CA); Steve Rothman (NJ); Elijah Cummings (MD); and Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX).
The Brian Baird experience should provide a warning note for Congressional Dems. Randy Stapilus at Ridenbaugh Press has an excellent first-hand account of the extremely tense town meeting Baird held in Vancouver on Monday.
One man seemed to place his finger on the feeling here when he compared protests about Iraq and other Bush Administration policy to a 9-1-1 call: The people have been calling 9-1-1 to report an emergency, but no one ever responds, including Congress. They have felt ignored, and now they’re furious about it. Many, clearly, had hoped for more change when a new majority was seated in Congress in January, only to find much less than they’d hoped for.
This was an unusual town hall meeting for Baird; one woman who had attended several of his meetings previously said the turnout for this one was much larger, and the tenor always had been a lot different.
The ground is shifting. Depending on how Iraq and Baird’s responses to it develop in the rest of this year, the congressman easily could wind up with a primary challenger - a serious one, backed by some of his own former supporters. Or maybe the play-out is something else. But we do know this: We’ve never seen a congressional town hall meeting so bitter and angry at the member of Congress, and that has to mean something.
Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden wrote about that the same anger, the same frustration, that he experienced at a town meetings he held earlier in the month. Every Democratic member of Congress who held town meetings this August heard this message. Are they listening?
Make them hear you. Call, fax, and e-mail your representative in Congress. If they are one of the 70 who signed on to that letter, tell them to hold strong and keep their promise. If their name is not on that letter, ask them to join with those 70 representatives and stop funding this occupation.
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