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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 8, 2010
4:48 PM

CONTACT: Peace Action West

Reva Patwardhan (office) 510-830-3600, ext. 112

rpatwardhan@peaceactionwest.org

With Obama in Office, Congressional Democrats' Scores Drop on Peace Issues

OAKLAND, Calif. - April 8 - On legislation regarding foreign policy, Democrats voted more hawkishly in 2009 then they had in the previous eight years. This is according to a just-released report on Congress's national security voting record, a survey of 13 key votes in the House of Representatives, and 10 votes in the Senate. Peace Action West produces the report annually, and found just 15 members of Congress scoring over 90 percent in 2009, compared to 117 in 2010.

"The results of this report are a timely election year reminder that if we want a smarter American approach to global problems, we need to ramp up pressure on incumbents and support real pro-peace challengers for Congress," said Rebecca Griffin, Peace Action West's political director. "We need people in Congress with the courage to stand up for peace, even when that means disagreeing with a Democratic White House, or withstanding the kind of right-wing scare tactics that often corner weak politicians into support for foreign policy aggression."

The report scored votes on key legislation taken up by Congress in 2009. Included were votes on requiring an exit strategy from Afghanistan, supplemental war funding outside the normal budget process, the attempted closure of Guantanamo Bay prison, military pork projects, the war in Gaza, and US relations with Iran. The low scores reflect the maintenance of the status quo on many key foreign policy challenges. Congress supported President Obama in such counterproductive policies as continuing the military-dominated approach in Afghanistan, while undermining his more positive shifts by passing harsh unilateral sanction on Iran while the administration attempted diplomatic engagement. The scorecard can be viewed at http://www.peaceactionwest.org/category/2009_congressional_scorecard:_111th_congress/

Despite falling short of significant foreign policy change, the scorecard documents strong leadership from members who have consistently championed smarter security approaches. The "Best and Worst of Congress 2009" section of the scorecard chronicles attempts by leaders to reign in the war in Afghanistan, and cut Pentagon pork for convention and nuclear weapons.

"Democrats are facing a major enthusiasm gap with their base heading into the elections, and this congressional scorecard provides a glimpse into why," stated Griffin. "In 2008 progressives turned out in droves to give Democrats control of our government in large part because they were fed up with war. If Democrats want progressives to support them again, they need to demonstrate that they are going to stop caving to fear-based politics and show us bold foreign policy leadership. We are engaging our supporters around the country every day to make sure Congress gets that message loud and clear. ."

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Peace Action West works for smarter American approaches to global problems by engaging average citizens in shaping US foreign policy. Peace Action West's 50,000 members and supporters do their part by making sure their voices count on matters that shape our world. More information on the organization is available at www.PeaceActionWest.org.

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