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      Friday
      Mar182011

      How to Pressure Congress: A Primer

      Below are detailed instructions on how to ensure that your voice is heard by both of your Senators and your Representative in Congress. Please place your calls and write your emails, right away.

      WHY IT'S IMPORTANT

      The Long War is being pursued by the Pentagon and White House for geo-strategic reasons [military reputation, bases in region, access to resources, etc...]. Congress has the power of setting policy, oversight and funding. Congressional statements and action are more likely to be reported in the media than voices of the peace movement. While Congress is more a lapdog than a watchdog, a healthy opposition bloc in Congress is crucial to raising the costs of the war. Congress will never end the war, but can apply brakes and contribute to public awareness and debate. The war will end when the costs outweigh the benefits, and those costs include Congressional and public opposition.

      WHAT CONGRESS CARES ABOUT

      Congress cares about public opinion, the opportunity for media exposure, and most of all, public sentiment and organized pressure from their own Congressional Districts. 

      You may identify your Congressional District by visiting Congress.org. 

      WHAT CONGRESS RESPONDS TO

      If the local peace movement is silent, Members of Congress use that silence to say their constituents don’t care, and a vicious circle begins. Therefore, call-ins organized by D.C. peace groups are important chores.

      More vital is to develop a broad coalition of District endorsements from clergy, labor, environmentalists, Democratic clubs, etc... on a letterhead, demanding that the representative speak out and vote against the war. The letter should be sent to all local media. The letter should be followed by a request for a meeting at the District level.

       Informational protests at District offices are entirely legitimate, and it's useful to send out positive messages when Members vote for peace. Most important, besides broadening the endorsers list, is developing a huge email voter file to use in sending out “report cards” and endorsements after every floor vote and at election time. Contact Progressive Democrats of America for information on their successful brown-bag vigils.

      THE GOAL THIS YEAR

      To maintain or exceed the anti-war House votes from last year:

      • 65 votes for Kucinich measure to end the war authorization (2010).
      • 93 votes for Kucinich measure to end the war authorization (2011).
      • 100 votes for Lee’s termination of funding except for redeployment costs.
      • 162 votes for McGovern’s demand for an exit plan, including a withdrawal timeline.

      A majority of Democrats voted for McGovern’s measure in July. With fewer Blue Dogs, a stronger majority should be attainable in 2011. In the Senate, there were only 18 votes for a Feingold measure modeled on the McGovern bill. It is of the utmost importance that a larger number vote for Boxer’s version of the Feingold measure.

      ADDITIONAL GOALS

      • We should demand hearings on the cover-up of civilian casualties, the persecution of Pfc. Bradley Manning, and the likely trial of Julian Assange.
      • Members should be asked to voice anti-war criticisms from the floor, question the war’s impact on the deficit debate, and individually join the Out of Afghanistan Caucus.
      • Members should be asked to appear at anti-war forums in their districts and states.

      CONTACTING YOUR SENATORS & REPRESENTATIVES

      Everyone living in the 50 states is represented by two Senators and one Representative. Each Congressperson’s Afghanistan point person is only an email or phone call away. The PJRC has compiled a list of Congressional staff who focus on foreign policy and Afghanistan. These lists are available here and at the bottom of the page. Both of your Senators and your Representative are listed:

      Senate

      House of Representatives

      In addition, the PJRC is sending the names of these Congressional staff to the 60 communities where we have activist networks.

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