Thanks to Jon Rainwater of Peace Action West for this timely update. There’s so much going on on the Syria/Iraq issue — on diplomacy, military escalation, and the humanitarian issues — that it is hard to keep track. In addition to the foreign policy developments, there are have been SO many bills, resolutions, and letters on the Syria/Iraq issue lately that it’s important to highlight the following four pending advocacy opportunities and developments.
Right now there are some really concrete asks we can make of elected officials to push them to do the right thing on decision points that are right in front of them. Especially on the funding issues where we have a couple week window to truly impact policy in a big way. After years of talking about funding as an alternative to war we could have a big real-world impact in the next couple weeks.
A. US Military Intervention: Opposing Ground Troops and Escalation in Syria/AUMF
1. Sen. Tom Udall’s anti-escalation in Syria bill (w/ Mike Lee and Chris Murphy as original cosponsors) S. 2239.
The bill aims to stop escalation in Syria by “Prohibiting the obligation or expenditure of funds made available to the Central Intelligence Agency, the Department of Defense, the National Security Council, the National Security Agency, or any other U.S. agency or entity involved in intelligence activities for the purpose of, or in a manner which would have the effect of, supporting military or paramilitary operations in Syria.”
There was a bipartisan letter with calling on Speaker Ryan to Bring AUMF to House Floor for Debate and Vote given the “deepening entanglement” in the conflict. The letter was read by Representatives Jim McGovern (D-MA), Tom Cole, (R-OK), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Walter Jones (R-NC), Peter Welch (D-VT), and John Lewis (D-GA). Click here to view the letter. In addition to Reps. Justin Amash (R-MI), Michael Burgess (R-TX), David Cicilline (D-RI), John Conyers (D-MI), Joe Crowley (D-NY), John Abney Culberson (R-TX), Peter A. DeFazio (D-OR), John J. Duncan, Jr. (R-TN), John Garamendi (D-CA), Paul A. Gosar (R-AZ), Janice Hahn (D-CA), Richard L. Hanna (R-NY), Joe Kennedy (D-MA), Daniel Kildee (D-MI), Raúl R. Labrador (R-ID), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Bill Posey (R-FL), Charles Rangel (D-NY), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Matt Salmon (R-AZ), Mark Sanford (R-SC), Janice D. Schakowsky (D-IL), Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Ed Whitfield (R-KY), Ted S. Yoho (R-FL), and Ryan K. Zinke (R-MT).
Peace Action West has a blog post on the letter here. Feel free to reprint the post or any of PAW (or I assume PA’s?) posts.
3. S. 2145 Graham/Leahy bill to increase funding for refugees (both in the region and for resettled refugees in the U.S. The deadline is sometimes before Dec 11 when the current Continuing Resolution that runs out. Action is expected in the next couple weeks (the Thanksgiving holiday notwithstanding).
Cosponsors so far: Leahy, Patrick [D-VT], Durbin, Richard [D-IL], Murphy, Christopher [D-CT], Shaheen, Jeanne [D-NH], Feinstein, Dianne [D-CA], Warren, Elizabeth [D-MA], Gillibrand, Kirsten [D-NY], King, Angus [I-ME], Cantwell, Maria [D-WA], Coons, Chris [D-DE], Merkley, Jeff [D-OR], Casey, Robert “Bob” [D-PA].
Ask for Senators: Co-sponsor bill. Increase aid by an even larger amount than the bill. All Senators are targets with a premium on members of the Appropriations committee and Senate leadership.
Tactics: Call and email alerts (see PAW alert on this). Congressional offices have said they are getting anti-resettlement calls so calls would be particularly helpful. Checking in with policy staff in DC on the phone would be good. In state lobby visits (soon!). Thanksgiving events (as per Paul’s email. Op-Eds and letters to the editor.
4. Vargas letter on refugee aid. Deadline Nov 19th.
Ask for House members: Sign the Vargas letter on increases in refugee aid in FY 2016 budget. (The letter is to leaders of the Appropriations committee.). Increase funding for refugees. All House members are targets. Pro-peace Democrats are low hanging fruit and should be worked but Republicans are also very much needed to make increasing funding a strong possibility.
5. Rep. Himes Legislation on Syria Diplomacy
This resolution, H. Res. 508, expresses, “the sense of the House of Representatives that the President of the United States should use the full authority of his office to convene international negotiations intended to stop the civil war in Syria.” The legislation language tracks with Himes has been outspoken about the problems of the military approach saying:
“Every additional bomb that falls or soldier who joins the fight adds to that escalating instability and violence. The only way to bring about an end to the problem is to engage all of the states that have influence and interests in Syria to find a peaceful, diplomatic solution.”
So by supporting this we help efforts to pressure the administration to support intensive, comprehensive diplomatic efforts but we also critique the whole war effort as counterproductive.
Ask for House members: Cosponsor H. Res. 508. (Cosponsors thus far: Carney, John [D-DE0], Carson, André [D-IN7], Clarke, Yvette [D-NY9], Conyers, John [D-MI13], Ellison, Keith [D-MN5], Esty, Elizabeth [D-CT5], Foster, Bill [D-IL11], Honda, Michael “Mike” [D-CA17], Jackson Lee, Sheila [D-TX18], Kaptur, Marcy [D-OH9]
Kilmer, Derek [D-WA6], Lieu, Ted [D-CA33], McDermott, Jim [D-WA7], McGovern, James “Jim” [D-MA2], Moulton, Seth [D-MA6], Pascrell, Bill [D-NJ9], Pocan, Mark [D-WI2], Quigley, Mike [D-IL5], Rice, Kathleen [D-NY4], Rush, Bobby [D-IL1], Schakowsky, Janice “Jan” [D-IL9], Lee, Barbara [D-CA13], Polis, Jared [D-CO2].