We do not want James Langevin (Democrat, Rhode Island) to think we have forgotten him. While much of the effort is on the Senate side of Congress to rein in the President’s war making powers due to 16 and 17 year old Authorizations for Use of Military Force (AUMF) (most recently by Senators Bernie Sanders (Independent, Vermont), Mike Lee (Republican, Utah), and Chris Murphy (Democrat, Connecticut)), Representative Barbara Lee (Democrat, California) has sought debate again and again in the House. Her most recent letter to Speaker Paul Ryan (Republican, Wisconsin) in February of this year had 106 signors, including ten Republicans. Rhode Island Representative David Cicilline (Democrat) signed on. Representative Langevin did not.
Here in blue state Rhode Island, we believe our Congressional representatives, particularly our Senators and Representative Langevin, should be concerned about our immense military budget and the fact that President Donald Trump is fighting wars in Asia and Africa under authorizations of military force that date back a decade and a half. These authorizations, based on Osama Bin Laden‘s actions on 9/11 and Saddam Hussein‘s supposed possession of weapons of mass destruction are not relevant to the wars being fought today. We hear out Democratic Representatives saying they are going to resist the Trump agenda, but then give him more than he asked for in the military budget. (Representative Cicilline originally approved this budget but voted against it after the Trump tax cuts passed.)
It was obvious to anyone who understood how Washington and the Republicans work that the tax cut would lead to deficits and that the Republicans would then come after social security and domestic spending and that a vote for a budget that spent that much on war was going to deprive Rhode Islanders and the people of this country an adequate safety net and funds for health care, schools, roads, hunger programs, programs for the elderly, and other domestic necessities.
Supporters of the budget always talk about jobs, but are all our new jobs going to be military industrial complex jobs? Should we base our economy on perpetual war? Can’t we put the government money – our money – toward other types of jobs programs like wind turbines and other green initiatives? Why do government dollars for jobs only have to be for advanced military weaponry? What can be done for the betterment of society? Currently our Democratic officials promote the Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI) training programs that trains workers in the the building of war machines. Could we use college training courses for better purposes?
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We are rallying to hold war hawks to account, no matter what party they belong to.
Taking care of the troops, something that Senator Jack Reed (Democrat, Rhode Island) made sure to mention in response to one of our protests, does not just mean voting to give more contracts to large corporations whose executives receive huge salaries while veterans struggle to make ends meet. Taking care of the troops includes making sure that people return to good jobs and good schools, that our communities have decent infrastructure and that medical care and care for the elderly is available for relatives of “the troops.” Taking care of the troops might involve audits of how defense money is spent, not just upbraiding executive member branches when they don’t ask for more weapons systems.
Looking out for the well-being of our men and women in arms also entails our congressional delegation, particularly our Senators, fulfilling their constitutional responsibilities to oversee the authorization of force. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (Democrat, Rhode Island) and Jack Reed also did not support Rand Paul (Republican, Kentucky)’s motion to have a vote on whether our wars in multiple countries there are properly authorized. What are their views? What limitations will they seek, as Congress considers action on the stretched-beyond-credibility 2001 and 2002 AUMF? They rejected the Sanders-Lee-Murphy Resolution and rejected even to have a vote on whether the United States should be supporting Saudi Arabia‘s war efforts in Yemen. How about Langevin and Cicilline – are they for unchecked war across the globe?
Anti-endless war and excessive military spending held a peace rally outside of the Summit Office Park at 300 Centerville Road in Warwick where Congressman Langevin has his office on Tuesday, to remind Rhode Islanders that our Congressional delegation is endorsing, either by their silence or by their votes on the military budget, endless war.