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Progressives again urge Afghanistan withdrawal

Acting on the promise they made earlier this week, the House’s progressive leaders – including three from the Bay Area – urged President Barack Obama today renewing their call for a significant reduction in U.S. troops in Afghanistan following the killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chairs Keith Ellison, D-Minn., and Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., along with CPC Peace & Security Task Force co-chairs Mike Honda, D-San Jose, Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, Maxine Waters, D-Los Angeles, and Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, noted how bin Laden’s recent death not only provided comfort to families of “the victims of his unconscionable attacks on innocent life” but also provided an opportunity to end U.S. involvement in America’s longest war. The letter also cites the growing bipartisan consensus to ensure that the scheduled July reduction in troops “meet the expectations of Congress (and) the American people.”

Scores of House members urged the President in March to make the July reduction in U.S. troops levels in Afghanistan significant and sizable.

The latest New York Times/CBS poll shows nearly half of those surveyed said the nation should decrease troop levels in Afghanistan, but more than six in 10 also said the United States had not completed its mission in Afghanistan, suggesting that the public would oppose a rapid withdrawal of all American forces. The nationwide telephone poll was conducted May 2 and 3 with 532 adults and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points for all adults.

Read the full text of the letter, after the jump…
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Posted on Wednesday, May 4th, 2011
Under: Afghanistan, Barbara Lee, Lynn Woolsey, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 2 Comments »

Lee leads letter urging Afghanistan withdrawal

Rep. Barbara Lee today led a bipartisan group of 80 House members in writing to President Barack Obama, urging him to make a significant, sizeable reduction in U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan beginning no later than July.

Barbara Lee (Dec-2010)“Our service men and women have performed with incredible courage and commitment in Afghanistan. But they have been put in an impossible situation where there is no military solution,” Lee, D-Oakland, said in a news release.

“Twice, President Obama has doubled down on a counterproductive military-first strategy in Afghanistan based upon the perpetual recommendation of the Pentagon for more troops, more time, and more resources,” she said. “This letter sends a clear signal to the President that the redeployment of a minimal number of U.S. troops from Afghanistan in July will not meet the expectations of Congress or the American people, and further that we will strongly support a shift toward ending this war and bringing all of our troops home.

Among those signing today’s letter were representatives John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove; George Miller, D-Martinez; Pete Stark, D-Fremont; Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough; Mike Honda, D-San Jose; Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose; and Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma.

Lee last month joined with two House Republicans to introduce HR 780, The Responsible End to the War in Afghanistan Act, which would limit funding in Afghanistan for the safe and orderly withdrawal of U.S. troops and military contractors. That bill now has 56 co-sponsors, including all of the Bay Area members who signed today’s letter; no action has occurred since it was referred to the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs committees.

Read the full text of today’s letter, after the jump…
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Posted on Wednesday, March 16th, 2011
Under: Afghanistan, Barbara Lee, George Miller, Jackie Speier, John Garamendi, Lynn Woolsey, Mike Honda, Pete Stark, U.S. House, Zoe Lofgren | 4 Comments »

Barbara Lee, Ron Paul aim to end Afghanistan war

Rep. Barbara Lee joined with two House Republicans this morning to introduce a bill that they say would end the war in Afghanistan.

The bill that Lee, D-Oakland, co-authored with Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, and Rep. Walter Jones, R-NC, would require that any money appropriated for the war in Afghanistan “shall be obligated and expended only for purposes of providing for the safe and orderly withdrawal from Afghanistan of all members of the Armed Forces and Department of Defense contractor personnel.”

“It sends, really, a strong message that we’ve come together today to speak with one voice on this issue,” Lee said on a teleconference with reporters.

Barbara Lee (Dec-2010)Lee noted her lone vote against authorizing the use of force after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and said her concern that it was a blank check for war hasn’t abated since. Had Americans known we’d still be in Afghanistan almost a decade later, she said, perhaps there would’ve been a more robust debate. “It’s costing us $100 billion a year and countless American lives.”

Lee said the bill already has about 46 co-sponsors, on both sides of the aisle.

Jones, whose district is home to military installations including the Marine Corps’ Camp LeJeune, has seen service members deployed repeatedly to Afghanistan, to little avail. He said he has been in touch with a retired general – whom he declined to name, although he said reporters would recognize the name if he did – who has advised him that the situation in Afghanistan is untenable, and won’t lead to a stable, democratic government there.

“It’s time to bring them home, the American people are fed up and tired of seeking the broken bodies,” he said.

Paul thanked Lee for “leading the charge” and said the war is a consequence of policy dating back at least to the Persian Gulf War, an American interventionist attitude intent on remaking the Middle East and South Asia. We should persuade and lead by example, not by gunpoint, he said.

Asked whether yesterday’s vote on defunding the development of an alternative engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter indicated House members are becoming more willing to cross party lines, Paul replied he found it “a bit encouraging” but said it wasn’t a great test vote because there were “a lot of parochial interests involved.” Although the new crop of GOP freshmen seem more inclined to vote independently, he said, “we still have a way to go.”

Posted on Thursday, February 17th, 2011
Under: Afghanistan, Barbara Lee, Ron Paul, U.S. House | 5 Comments »

Barbara Lee’s news blitz on AIDS, climate, war

The always communicative Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, is setting a new bar in news-release volume today, with five statements issued by midday.

In order, though not in their entirety:

Barbara Lee (Dec-2010)Lee commemorates World Aids Day. “”In the spirit of World AIDS Day and this year’s theme of Universal Access and Human Rights, I call on my colleagues to take advantage of this moment and come together in a bipartisan manner with the administration to find the will and the funding necessary to stop this disease.”

Lee comments on the ongoing United Nations Climate Change Conference taking place in Cancun, Mexico. “I urge President Obama and our international counterparts to recommit to the international negotiation process and cooperative efforts to ensure science-based reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions are accomplished in an equitable and verifiable manner.”

Lee, on behalf of the Congressional Black Caucus, speaks in support of The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. “It is unfortunate that in order to pass The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act it comes at the expense of future Supplemental Assistance Nutrition Program funding. As more Americans slip into poverty and unemployment remains at painfully high levels, we should not have to choose between feeding poor children or their parents at a time that some in Congress argue for a $700 billion tax cut for the wealthiest Americans.”

Lee announces the launch of her newly redesigned website, featuring a homepage newsflash rotator, an interactive map of the 9th Congressional District and a more user-friendly design.. “I hope everyone will take a moment to explore my website to learn about my work on key issues and discover how to take advantage of the constituent services my office can provide.”

Lee calls for a change of course in Afghanistan, one year after President Obama announced his troop surge there. “There is no end in sight in to the war in Afghanistan and no military solution. The President’s recent decision to extend the timeframe for the transfer of security responsibility to Afghan forces to at least 2014 has put us on the path to another decade of costly and counterproductive military occupation in Afghanistan. Enough is enough. This war is not in the national interest of the United States, nor is it supported by the majority of the American people.”

Let’s all give a shout-out to Communications Director Nicole Williams and Deputy District Director Ricci Graham, perhaps the Bay Area’s hardest-working House communications team. A few more this afternoon, maybe?

Posted on Wednesday, December 1st, 2010
Under: Afghanistan, Barbara Lee, Global warming, U.S. House | 5 Comments »

McNerney voted for the war supplemental

Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, was the only Bay Area House member to vote in favor of the $33 billion Afghanistan and Iraq war supplemental spending bill yesterday. The bill passed on a 308-114 vote.

I asked McNerney’s office why he voted as he did, and how he felt about this week’s release of classified military documents on the WikiLeaks website.

Jerry McNerney “The leaking of classified information is a very serious matter, especially if it has the potential to put American troops at risk. I have been following these developments carefully,” he replied in an e-mail this afternoon. “I voted in favor of the supplemental because I believe we must continue to develop an effective strategy to stop terrorists who are attempting to use Afghanistan as a safe haven from which to attack our country.

“Late last year, I traveled to Afghanistan as part of a bipartisan fact-finding trip to see for myself the situation on ground,” he continued. “I spent time with our troops and met with U.S. military and Afghan government officials. I’m impressed by the efforts of our men and women in uniform and grateful for their sacrifice, and I believe our military commanders and our troops in the field should have the resources to defend themselves and execute the mission they have been given.”

Politically, it seemed like a no-brainer. Regardless of how McNerney personally feels about the wars, a “no” vote would’ve been risky for the only truly embattled House incumbent serving the most moderate district in the Bay Area, and it’s not as if he’d have put the Democratic doves’ votes over the top.

Read other Bay Area members’ comments, after the jump…
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Posted on Wednesday, July 28th, 2010
Under: Afghanistan, Anna Eshoo, Barbara Lee, Iraq, Iraq War, Jerry McNerney, John Garamendi, Mike Honda, Pete Stark, U.S. House | 2 Comments »

Today’s Congressional odds and ends

Jerry McNerneyMcNerney touts GOP endorsements: One day after the National Republican Congressional Committee named 11th Congressional District GOP nominee David Harmer one of its “Young Guns,” incumbent
Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, announced he has the endorsements of three prominent local Republicans: Danville Mayor Mike Doyle, Tracy Councilman Steve Abercrombie and former Manteca Mayor and Councilman Jack Snyder. “Jerry McNerney has done more for our veterans than anyone else that I’ve worked with,” Doyle said in McNerney’s news release. “From fighting to keep the Livermore VA in veterans’ hands to supporting the renovations of the Danville Veterans Hall, Jerry McNerney has shown that he’s willing to work across the aisle and will get the job done for our community.”

Lee praises SBA pick: Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, congratulates Elizabeth Echols, 50, of Oakland, on her appointment as Region IX Administrator for the Small Business Administration, charged with overseeing the SBA’s programs and services in California, Nevada, Arizona Hawaii and Guam. Echols is CEO of OpNet Community Ventures, Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to promoting opportunities in the technology industry for low-income young adults, and held several political appointments in the Clinton White House and Commerce Department. “I don’t believe the SBA could have made a better selection,” Lee said. “Elizabeth recognizes the role the SBA has played in helping pull our nation out of the recession. Elizabeth understands that small business is the engine that drives our nation’s economy, and that providing small businesses with support and resources is key to creating good-paying, sustainable jobs and, ultimately, to our economic recovery.”

Miller preps for child nutrition markup: House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-Martinez, chaired a hearing yesterday on bipartisan child nutrition reauthorization legislation introduced earlier this month to improve children’s health, increase access to healthy meals, and create more year-round meal opportunities for children; Miller announced plans to markup HR 5504, the Improving Nutrition for America’s Children Act, when Congress returns after the July 4th recess. “We need to get our country back on a pathway of healthy eating and healthy living – this starts by not only ensuring our children are eating healthy meals in schools, but also teaching them healthy habits that will last them a lifetime,” he said in a news release today. “This bill is a great opportunity to improve our school meal programs, to meet children’s nutritional needs at every venture and to change the future of this country.”

Lawmakers vote to limit Afghanistan funding: Lee and Miller joined Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont; Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove; Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough; Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose; and Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, in voting Thursday for Lee’s amendment to the Supplemental Appropriations bill that would have denied additional funds for the war in Afghanistan except for money that would be needed to ensure the safety of troops in the field as they are preparing to redeploy. The amendment failed on a 100-321 vote. McNerney and Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, voted against the amendment, while Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, didn’t vote.

Posted on Friday, July 2nd, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Afghanistan, Anna Eshoo, Barbara Lee, congressional district 11, George Miller, Jackie Speier, Jerry McNerney, John Garamendi, Lynn Woolsey, Mike Honda, Nancy Pelosi, Pete Stark, U.S. House, Zoe Lofgren | 16 Comments »

House members want clear plan on Afghanistan

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, led about two dozen House members in writing to President Barack Obama today to ask that he provide Congress with “a clear commitment and plan to withdraw US forces from Afghanistan” before the vote on the supplemental funding bill.

“It has been nearly a decade since we went to Afghanistan and we still are not sure why we are there or can define a successful mission,” she said in a news release. “This war is now the longest war in American history. We simply cannot continue to fund a war that seemingly has no end in sight. It’s past time we have a clear exit strategy and timeline for redeployment of our troops.”

The letter cites conflicting statements by members of the Administration and the military command – for example, in the same Rolling Stone article that led to Gen. Stanley McChrystal being sacked, a senior military official stationed in Afghanistan indicated military success could actually lead to more U.S. troops deployed there, not fewer: “There’s a possibility we could ask for another surge of U.S. forces next summer if we see success here.”

The letter also cites U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates on ABC’s “This Week” last December as well as Gen. David Petraeus in today’s Washington Post indicating troops necessarily won’t be meaningfully withdrawn in the summer of 2011.

Among the other House members signing Lee’s letter are Pete Stark, D-Fremont, and Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma.

Read the full text of the letter, after the jump…
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Posted on Tuesday, June 29th, 2010
Under: Afghanistan, Barbara Lee, Lynn Woolsey, Obama presidency, Pete Stark, U.S. House | 3 Comments »

Doves say ditch the war, not just the general

The Bay Area Congressional delegation’s two biggest doves said today that President Barack Obama’s dismissal of Gen. Stanley McChrystal as the top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan (following the general’s and his aides’ critical remarks about the Administration in Rolling Stone) should be only the start.

“What is needed in Afghanistan is a change of policy not just a change of commanders,” Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-chair Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, said in a news release. “The real message of the Rolling Stone article is that the Afghan war is an unwinnable mess. It is time to start withdrawing from Afghanistan not surging deeper into a futile conflict that is already the longest war in U.S. history.”‬‪

Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, said she agreed with the President’s decision to relieve McChrystal of his command.

“The President is correct – this war is bigger than any one person. Our focus should be on our strategy to bring an end to this war,” said Lee, who you’ll recall was the lone vote in Congress against the 2001 resolution authorizing the Bush Administration’s use of force against al Qaeda in Afghanistan.

“Open-ended war in Afghanistan is not in our national security interest and continues to create enemies. We must fundamentally rethink our policy on Afghanistan and reorient our efforts to combat terrorism around the globe in a more effective and sustainable manner,” she said in a news release today. “We need to stop digging the hole and risking the lives of our brave young men and women. We need a clear exit strategy and a timeline to safely redeploy our troops from Afghanistan.”

UPDATE @ 10:50 A.M. MONDAY 6/28: A clarification – Lee issued her statement speaking for herself, not on behalf of the Congressional Black Caucus she chairs.

Posted on Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010
Under: Afghanistan, Barack Obama, Barbara Lee, Lynn Woolsey, Obama presidency, U.S. House | 5 Comments »

Afghanistan withdrawal resolution defeated

H.Con.Res. 248, legislation by Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, that would order the President to remove U.S. troops from Afghanistan, failed today on a 65-356 vote after more than three and a half hours of debate.

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland; Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont; and Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma were among the legislation’s 19 co-sponsors. They were joined by Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, and Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough, in voting for it today.

From Stark:

Pete Stark“Madam Speaker, I rise today in support of H.Con.Res. 248 to bring our troops home from Afghanistan.

“Despite the wishes of the people who voted him into office, President Obama is escalating the War in Afghanistan. It’s now up to Congress to end the war. This resolution would invoke the War Powers Resolution of 1973, and remove troops from Afghanistan no later than the end of the year.

“This war has no clear objective. We have spent $258 billion on the War in Afghanistan, with billions more to come this year. American soldiers and their families are paying a greater price. Over 1,000 soldiers have died, and over 5,000 have been wounded in action. According to the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, Human Rights Watch, and other humanitarian organizations, tens of thousands of Afghan civilians have been killed.

“It is time for Congress to assert its constitutional authority over matters of war and bring our troops home. I urge my colleagues to join us in support of this resolution. War will never stabilize Afghanistan. We must turn to diplomacy and infrastructure development to achieve stability in Afghanistan.”

From Miller:

“We need to move in a new direction in Afghanistan. Today, I again registered my opposition to the current US policy in Afghanistan by voting for Mr. Kucinich’s war powers resolution. While we know it isn’t feasible for American troops to leave Afghanistan in the time allotted in the resolution, by voting for it I am sending a clear message to President Obama and my colleagues that we need to move in a new direction in Afghanistan.”

Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, was one of five Republicans (the others included Rep. John Campbell, R-Irvine) to vote for the legislation. From Paul:

Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, issued a statement saying she had voted against the resolution “with a heavy heart.” See her full explanation after the jump…
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Posted on Wednesday, March 10th, 2010
Under: Afghanistan, Anna Eshoo, Barbara Lee, Dennis Kucinich, George Miller, Jackie Speier, Lynn Woolsey, Pete Stark, Ron Paul, U.S. House | 5 Comments »

Brown-bagging for peace

Progressive Democrats of America is planning another round of brown-bag lunch vigils at House members’ district offices – including four in Northern California – next Wednesday, Feb. 17 to demand commitments to vote against more money for war.

brown-bag lunch The first round, on Jan. 20, targeted 22 House members; this round already has 37 events scheduled. And this time, PDA will be joined by CODEPINK, AfterDowningStreet,, the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United, and United for Peace and Justice. Poster slogans include “Healthcare not Warfare,” “Corporations out of Politics,” “Bailout Main Street not Wall Street,” and “Brownbaggers not Teabaggers.”

In Northern California, the vigils are scheduled for 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Rep. Dennis Cardoza’s office, 1010 10th St. in Modesto; noon to 1 at Rep. Lynn Woolsey’s office, 1101 College Ave. in Santa Rosa; and noon to 2 p.m. at Rep. Barbara Lee’s office, 1301 Clay St., Suite 1000-N in Oakland, and at Rep. John Garamendi’s office, 1981 N. Broadway, Suite 220 in Walnut Creek.

Can you guess which of these is least likely to invite the brown-baggers in? I knew you could.

The activists want House members to vow to oppose any bills that fund wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan or Yemen, and to publicly urge their colleagues and the House leadership to do the same. They also want members to cosponsor antiwar legislation including Lee’s HR 3699, which would prohibit any increase in the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. That bill’s 28 cosponsors already include Woolsey as well as Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, and Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose.

“We have to choose between jobs and wars,” PDA national director Tim Carpenter said in a news release. “The American people are on one side, but our so-called representatives in Congress are on the other. The Supreme Court is busy increasing corporate control of our elected officials. We need to be busy enforcing the people’s control before it is too late.”

Posted on Tuesday, February 9th, 2010
Under: Afghanistan, Barbara Lee, Dennis Cardoza, Iraq, John Garamendi, Lynn Woolsey, U.S. House | 1 Comment »