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Congress Should Vote No On War Funding Bill

Today, the House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on yet another supplemental funding bill , this time providing nearly $80 billion to continue waging the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (the total bill is now at $106 billion). And, just like they have done repeatedly in years past, progressive Members of Congress should vote against this funding and end our nation's descent into a disastrous quagmire in Afghanistan.

As I've noted before, the presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan unites our opponents within the country and region and makes cooperation by key regional players like Iran, Russia and China far less likely with the prospect of tens of thousands of US troops on their border. As for those with the most at stake - Afghan people - over 80% oppose an escalation of American troops in their country.

This is why 51 Members of Congress voted against the supplemental war funding when it first appeared before the House in May. They recognized that ending the war in Afghanistan is an essential part of improving our national security and stabilizing central Asia, and acted out of that conviction.

This past week, a number of progressive bloggers have been hard at work to encourage those same Members of Congress to again vote no when that funding reappears this afternoon. And, according to the citizen whip count kept by Jane Hamshire at FireDogLake, they're very close to keeping the 39 no votes needed to defeat that funding. After years of working and voting to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, these Congressional progressives have a chance to do just that. The many reasons to end these wars have not changed, and so, too, neither should their vote to oppose the supplemental funding.

Members of Congress will soon have another opportunity to build pressure against the military escalation in Afghanistan by supporting a bill by Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA) that demands that the administration establish what the president has publicly stated is needed in Afghanistan - a military exit strategy. McGovern plans to introduce his bill as a floor amendment to the House Armed Services Committee's Defense Authorization bill when it hits the floor next week.

But, first thing first - today Members of the House should be voting no on the supplemental.

The Win Without War coalition planned to announce a coordinated day of action today in support of Rep. McGovern's bill. With the last minute scheduling of today's vote on the Supplemental, however, that work is being delayed to avoid creating any confusion on Capitol Hill. I hope my former colleagues will join the growing list of co-sponsors of Rep. McGovern's bill. Today, however, their focus should be on opposing the supplemental funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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Tom Andrews

Tom Andrews

Tom Andrews, a former Member of Congress from the first Congressional District of Maine, is the President and CEO of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee. Tom also served as National Director of Win Without War, a coalition of forty-two national membership organizations including the National Council of Churches, the NAACP, the National Organization of Women, the Sierra Club, and MoveOn.  He is also co-founder of New Security Action.

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