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Over 250 U.S. mayors have rejected President Donald Trump's call for an increased Pentagon billions and instead called for a budget that supports "human and environmental needs." (Photo: Fibonacci Blue/flickr/cc)

US Mayors: Instead of War, Spend Big on 'Human and Environmental Needs'

The mayors 'understand that the resources being sucked up by the Pentagon to wage endless wars overseas should be used to address our crumbling infrastructure, the climate crisis, and poverty at home and abroad.'

Andrea Germanos

Hundreds of U.S. mayors have rejected the ongoing militarism supported by the present and Congress and instead called for a budget that supports "human and environmental needs."

Over 250 Democrat, Republican, and Independent city leaders that make up the U.S. Conference of Mayors delivered their rebuke to the administration's agenda with the passage of a series of resolutions Monday at their gathering in Miami.

President Donald Trump has proposed increasing the Pentagon budget by $54 billion, asking for $603 billion. The House and Senate Armed Services Committees, meanwhile, are set to ask for even more: $640 billion for 2018. (And those costs are unlikely to raise the eyebrows of so-called deficit hawks.)

In one adopted measure, called the "Opposition to Military Spending Resolution," the mayors say that such proposals are the wrong way forward. It calls on "Congress to move our tax dollars in exactly the opposite direction proposed by the President, from militarism to human and environmental needs."

Another resolution titled "Calling for Hearings on Real City Budgets Needed and the Taxes our Cities Send to the Federal Military Budget" urges each city "to pass a resolution calling on our federal legislators and the U.S. government to move significant funds away from the military budget to human needs," and to pass that resolution on to federal legislators.

Also tackled by the mayors is the threat of nuclear weapons. Saying it should be addressed as an "urgent priority," another resolution calls on the federal government to ramp up diplomatic efforts and cool tensions with "Russia, China, North Korea, and other nuclear-armed states and their allies, and to work with Russia to dramatically reduce U.S. and Russian nuclear stockpiles." It further calls on the

President and Congress to reverse federal spending priorities and to redirect funds currently allocated to nuclear weapons and unwarranted military spending to restore full funding for Community Block Development Grants and the Environmental Protection Agency, to create jobs by rebuilding our nation’s crumbling infrastructure, and to ensure basic human services for all, including education, environmental protection, food assistance, housing, and healthcare.

The calls were welcomed by peace organizations who'd helped promote the resolutions.

"We are very excited that the entire U.S. Conference of Mayors, from major metropoles such as New York City and Los Angeles to small rural townships, understand that the resources being sucked up by the Pentagon to wage endless wars overseas should be used to address our crumbling infrastructure, the climate crisis, and poverty at home and abroad," said Medea Benjamin of CODEPINK.

Echoing those points, Henry Lowendorf of the U.S. Peace Council said: "The mayors understand how pouring the wealth of our great country into building war machines and waging wars around the globe does not make us more secure."

Another effort that drew praise from advocacy groups for rebuking the administration's anti-climate stance was the "100% Renewable Energy in American Cities" resolution.

With a target year of 2035, it says that the clean energy transition

should include structured mechanisms to include low-income citizens in the benefits to be derived from the transition, including creating quality careers adhering to local source hiring, a just transition for workers displaced by fossil fuel reduction, equitable access through ownership, and benefits to create new opportunity for historically marginalized communities, and affordable clean energy options.

Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, called it "a remarkably bold step in the right direction to combat climate chaos," though she also lamented that it included biomass as renewable source, as it's "a byproduct of dirty industries."

"With Trump in the White House and fossil fuel-friendly Republicans in control of Congress, these mayors are committing their communities to a clean energy future that will create good jobs and protect our planet,” Hauter added.

Further underscoring the local leaders' commitment to climate action, another resolution the mayors passed supports cities' leadership in light of "recent actions by the Trump Administration, including the rollback of Clean Power Plan regulations, the rollback of updated fuel efficiency standards, and steep cuts to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency."

It "calls upon the Trump Administration and Congress to support the fight against climate change by fully committing themselves to Paris Climate Accord, the Clean Power Plan, the Clean Energy Incentive Program, and other efforts that will provide cities the tools they need to combat climate change."

As CODEPINK's Benjamin said, "Congress and the Trump administration should listen to these mayors, as they reflect the needs and hopes of their constituents, not the greed of corporate donors."

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