MoveOn.org, along with seven other activist groups, announced this past Thursday that they are implementing and launching a major campaign to protest President Bush’s plan to send over 20,000 more troops to Iraq.
The groups have organized rallies in all of the fifty states starting this past Thursday evening. to voice their opposition to Bush’s plan. The estimated starting budget for these events is between 7 million and 9 million dollars. But this price tag pales in comparison to the hundreds of millions of dollars spent since the start of the Iraq War.
These activist organizations are obviously willing to spend millions if they can help stop the dispatching of more American soldiers. The rallies will culminate into an even larger demonstration in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, January 27, 2007.
Even groups who do not usually take up the antiwar banner have surprisingly joined in the movement to protest the war escalation. “Major organizations, traditionally focused on domestic issues, are joining the effort to stop the president from deepening the Iraq fiasco,” said Washington Director of MoveOn.org, Tom Matzzie, “We’re going to create a firestorm.”
The heat is definitely on now. These activists are moving beyond the usual picket line arena. These organizations are heading into the political arena. Antiwar activists are strongly pressing congressional Democrats to block Bush’s plans. The antiwar organizers are not afraid to remind the Democrats of how short their stay in political office could be if drastic changes aren’t made. “The bottom line is that when voters elected the Democrats, they did that on the promise that the Democrats would lead the country out of the war,” said Eli Pariser, director of the MoveOn political action committee. “Democrats need to fulfill on that promise, and they’re going to.”
These antiwar activists seem to be making an impression. The message is ringing out loud and clear. Many in Congress have either sought to distance themselves from the President or are content to join the angry mob in openly criticizing his unwanted war escalation. The Republicans are scattering from the Presidents like rats leaving a sinking ship.
Democratic Senator Russ Feingold, suggested last Thursday that Congress should use its appropriations power to cut off funding for the Iraq war. During a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on President Bush’s call for more U.S. troops in Iraq Feingold states, “Now Congress must use its main power — the power of the purse — to put an end to our involvement in this disastrous war.” Feingold went on to declare that, “I am not talking here only about the surge or escalation.”
It’s in the best interest on the Democrats to deliver, the President to rescind his decision, and the Republicans to keep silent because the activists are marching one by one hooray.
Is a Filibuster Coming? Republicans May Not Be Able to Hold Down the Fort
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday that his party may filibuster a Democratic-sponsored resolution opposing President Bush’s new plan to dispatch 20,000 more soldiers to fight in Iraq.
However as much as McConnell and other Republicans may snarl their bark is worse than their bite. Though they have threatened that they might filibuster a plan opposing an escalation of troops it is doubtful that they can succeed. Even McConnell would not predict if the Republicans could muster the votes to carry out a filibuster.
Why is the Republicans’ ability to proceed with a filibuster in question? It could be because the 2008 elections are right around the corner and Republicans fear making a public decision they know most Americans disapprove of currently. It could be because they wish to distance themselves from President Bush’s mistakes. It could even be because Republicans actually believe continuing the Iraq War is wrong. There reasons may be many but there is something that is not in doubt, several Republicans have joined most Democrats in publicly opposing Mr. Bush’s troop increase.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid dismissed the idea of a Republican threat to filibuster any resolution opposing President Bush’s plan supported by Democrats. Reid believes that if the Democrats want to fight the plan to send more U.S. troops to Iraq they are more than able to do so. Reid predicts the Democrats have the votes to cut off any attempt at a Republican filibuster.
Reid cites GOP disenchantment with the Bush plan as the reason why a filibuster is a no go. “Yes, we do,” Reid told reporters. “By my last count, 12 Republicans publicly announced they don’t support the surge.”
The Democrats currently hold a slim 51 – 49 advantage in the Senate, which includes Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson, who is currently hospitalized while recovering from brain surgery. Sixty votes are needed to thwart a Republican filibuster attempt.
If Reid’s count is correct, 12 Republicans would likely get Democrats to the magic number. But the outcome may not be as clear as a crystal ball. Not all senators have announced if they support or oppose the troop increase and thus whether a filibuster can be accomplished is still a coin toss.
Nevertheless, the Democrats seem confident, a resolution opposing that increase is expected to be introduced next week.