Join those who are looking for a more peaceful and just world as we gather on the sidewalks on the edge of the office plaza where United States Representative James Langevin maintains his office is at 300 Centerville Road in Warwick, Rhode Island. A number of people will be there on Wednesday, July 24th from 5:30 to 7pm. Join us. At this moment in time, we primarily stay focused on reducing the military budget.
Last week, Representative Barbara Lee (Democrat, California) had an amendment to reduce the proposed military budget by $16.8B. Representative David Cicilline (Democrat, Rhode Island) supported her and voted for it. Langevin voted against it. Rhode Island voters and residents should let Langevin know this is not acceptable.
Lee’s amendment would have basically level funded the Pentagon. As it is, the Pentagon’s budget has already increased about $100 billion the last two years.
Fortunately, Langevin has finally gotten in line and voted to support ending the Authorized Use of Military Force (AUMF), Congress’ blank check for a president to take war actions. Unfortunately, his expressed willingness to go along with whatever larger military budget is proposed continues.
Following is a summary of the votes on important amendments added to the Defense Authorization bill. Basically, Cicilline voted the way we would have liked on everything; Langevin deviated from this twice (both times on measures that were defeated, showing what the party leadership will and will not do in terms of leveraging a Democratic majority while passing yet another larger military budget).
Langevin voted against the amendment to prohibit alleged defense funds to be used by the defense department to detain immigrants in their facilities. Cicilline supported this measure, which was defeated 173-245. (The amendment was offered by Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (Democrat, New York)). Langevin did vote with Cicilline on two other key immigration votes in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA): the amendment to prevent President Donald Trump from deploying troops to the border to enforce immigration law, and the amendment to prevent defense department from housing unaccompanied migrant children. Both of these were defeated.
Both Rhode Island State Representatives voted in favor of the amendments to sunset the AUMF for the war on terror, to repeal the AUMF for Iraq (both from Representative Lee) and to prohibit use of military force against Iran without permission from Congress. (An amendment from Representative Ro Khanna (Democrat, California). The two amendments prevented the Republicans from overturning the ban on the production of low yield nuclear missiles and both voted to prevent indefinite detention of a person under the war on terror AUMF detained in the United States, territories or possessions, granting the right to court proceedings in the constitution. That measure (from Representative Justin Amash (Independent, Michigan)) was defeated.
Langevin voted against reducing the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) portion of the defense authorization (designated for arenas of combat, this has been called the Pentagon slush fund because it is not counted towards the sequestration cap). Cicilline voted for this. It was handily defeated. It should be noted that Trump asked for a bump of $100M on this but the Democrats kept this at $68B. The measure, from Barbara Lee, would have lowered this $16.8B.
Two days ago, both Congressmen voted to prohibit sales of arms to Saudi Arabia, denying that an emergency existed which would allow this to be done without Congressional assent and both voted to cut off aid to the Saudi/United Arab Emirates war on Yemen.
Previously, the Senate, with Senator Jack Reed (Democrat, Rhode Island) helping lead the way, voted to increase the military budget to $750B at the end of June. $750B! This is sick, and Reed used all the Republican talking points. This Senate vote was the NDAA authorization. The House budget (appropriations) passed two weeks ago with only Democrats voting for it. It raised the military budget to $733B, giving the Pentagon a raise from the current $717B and that was a raise from the $700B Trump received his first year in power. Theoretically, House Democrats are trying to “hold the line” at the still way excessive $733B figure, since the House has to reconcile with the Senate vote before a final authorization of the budget occurs.
Trump had asked for a $750B military budget. The Senate – with Rhode Island’s Jack Reed all too willing help – wants to give Trump his request. Bear in mind that at the start of the Trump presidency, the military budget was $620B. “Trump was emboldened by Congress, including three of Rhode Island Democrats, when Congress gave him nearly $50B more than he asked for in his first military budget in 2017.”
Budget reconciliation is ongoing between the different chambers.
At this point, calls should be made to the offices of Reed, Langevin, and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (Democrat, Rhode Island) to work toward a military budget not to exceed $733B. Truthfully Democrats should be advocating for no more that the current level of funding – $717B. That ship has likely sailed now though.
Senator Jack Reed – 401-943-3100
Representative James Langevin – 401-732-9400
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse – 401-453-5294
Call Cicilline to thank him for his continuing to vote to reduce military spending – 401-729-5600.
Langevin, Reed and Whitehouse need to shift our economic priorities away from corporate profits for arms merchants and back towards education, infrastructure, constructing wind turbines, solar panels, engineering and constructing resiliency efforts to address the climate crisis, as well as helping those in need. Our Democratic Senators and Representative Langevin need to stop increasing military budgets. Enough is enough.
So join us on the sidewalks along 300 Centerville Road, Warwick next Wednesday. The House budget already increases military spending and the Senate authorization (NDAA) would increase it even more. Let’s insist that Reed, Langevin, and Whitehouse promote a vision of reduced military spending. Can’t join us? Please give them a call and ask your state legislators to do the same.
As always, we work on focusing toward a world not driven by war, hate, xenophobia, violence, and militarism. We envision and look to a world more driven by common values of people’s lives and rights, lifting up those most in need, a more just and peaceful world.
This is a simple demonstration – people gathered peacefully with signs – bring your own, or we will have some, plus extra materials.
Key for successful demonstration – Respect Ourselves, Others, and Community. Positive interactions to publicly challenge our elected officials, and work to change how they conduct our business and when they don’t serve our interests.