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Stonewalled Again


By the Back Bone Campaign

Republicans Undermine Congressional Oversight by Rejecting H. Res. 505 & 'No Show' Democrats Help

By Bill Moyer

This morning in DC, the oversight legislation, H. Res. 505, a Resolution of Inquiry into the White House Iraq Group (WHIG) was stonewalled in committee, losing 23 to 25. This bill, introduced by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) and vigorously supported by Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) who sits on the reviewing House International Relations Committee, was defeated by two votes. The Republicans members of the committee were obviously very aware that the stakes were high. It is reported the Republican Chair Henry Hyde was personally calling members to make sure they showed. A number of Democrats were late, but by the end, all but two were present and accounted for and voted favor in H. Res. 505.

In addition to the Democratic support, Jim Leach (R-IA) and Ron Paul (R-TX) supported the resolution as well. Rep. Paul actually correctly pointed out both that Democrats should have been standing up for such measures two years ago, and that the sponsor, Dennis Kucinich is one of the few that did. Though Rep. Leach had voted with the minority on Rep. Barbara Lee's Resolution of Inquiry, H.Res. 375 (regarding the Downing Street Minutes) two months ago, Rep. Paul merely voted "present" on that effort. That, combined with the greater emphasis on attendance of the meeting by the Chair, and the speed at which this resolution garnered co-sponsors is encouraging. It indicates a shift of the political environment, that previously marginalized efforts for accountability are now becoming mainstream and losing their hot-potato status, no longer stigmatized as "fringe" politics.

The speed at which the grassroots mobilized to effectively recruit co-sponsors was equally impressive. On Lee's H. Res. 375, due to the August recess, we had six weeks and events around the country to recruit co-sponsors. By the time of the vote we had 83 members on board. This time, with approximately two weeks to organize due to the earlier "mark up" by the Chair, and no extended recess, grassroots progressives turned up the heat and assembled an impressive 110 co-sponsors. Congratulations. Luckily grassroots activists were available and prepared to corral the Democratic members. Where message discipline was obvious, though inane, amongst Republicans, it was less apparent amongst the minority. Representatives Smith and Lee, who had led on the issue were stifled from making their cogent statements. The Chair, in an unusual move, prematurely cut off debate before before two of the main sponsors of the resolution were allowed to speak.

The Backbone Campaign would like to see more effective discipline amongst the Democrats, with growing collaboration between grassroots activists and party leadership to assure that when citizens mobilize the party machine does as well. Though today was impressive, we should strive to in the future, achieve more in terms of solidarity during votes and maximizing the theater of the moment to send a message to the nation through the media.

We'd also like to question the quality of leadership shown by Representatives Howard Berman (D-CA, 28th) and Eni Faleomavaega (American Samoa) who both failed to attend today's meeting and squandered their chance, or should I say privilege to vote. Rep. Berman's office made clear that he would not attend and did not support the resolution. This begs the question: What kind of Democrat would stifle investigation into this corrupt administration and deny the American people the opportunity to wrench the writing of history away from these traitorous ideologues? Representative Berman, at least allow us to confirm or deny whether that label is appropriate through adequate investigation. As for Rep. Faleomavaega, what is his office hiding by not being willing to even confirm or deny that he is in D.C. or not?

As a tie would have still meant a loss, it would be unfair to imply that victory would have been had, had Rep. Berman and Faleomavaega been present and voted for the resolution. That said, it is my opinion that both these guys deserve Spineless Citations for letting their party and the American people down, and squandering their privilege of sitting on that committee. Dennis Kucinich (OH), Barbara Lee (CA), and Adam Smith (WA) all deserve to be thanked with Spine Cards for their exemplary leadership. I invite you to download Spine Cards and Spineless Citations, the Backbone Campaign's "Thank & Spank" accountability tools by clicking on the text above or by visiting www.backbonecampaign.org and looking for "Creative Tactics" in the menu. Click here to see all the 110 co-sponsors who deserve to be thanked. Though we don't usually engage in much back and forth with members of the GOP, it seems appropriate to say thank you to Representatives Paul and Leach for their courageous putting aside partisanship to stand up for democratic (small "d") values in these polarized times.

Though the real fuel behind today's efforts came from a few Congressional offices and thousands of activist citizens empowered by organizations such as AfterDowningStreet.org, Democrats.com, Progressive Democrats of America, the People's Email Network and the Backbone Campaign, it would be remiss not to acknowledge the growing boldness of both Leader Pelosi and Leader Reid that we've seen over the recent weeks. We also urge people to point out to the press that today is another stark example of Republican Stonewalling and that the Fourth Estate must not wait for a White House briefing to report the obvious. We at the Backbone Campaign look forward to providing support for the growing effort to force accountability, oversight, and transparency in defense of our democracy, and the checks and balances it is predicated upon.

Thank and Hold Accountable:
http://www.backbonecampaign.org

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A great source for Bush war crime information:
http://www.bushcommission.org/

Everyone should also read this book review by Thom Hartmann:
http://www.buzzflash.com/hartmann/05/11/har05011.html

A real eye opener, I believe, especially for fence-sitters and blind Bush supporters. If you know any of these types, make sure you pass this on to them!

John Perry
http://www.johnperryonline.com

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