Thursday, March 15, 2007

Appropriations Committee Buys War

By Rae Abileah

Today we showed up at 7 am to wait in line to get into the House Appropriations Committee meeting to mark u the Supplemental bill. We waited for hours and when staffers, press, and Congresspeople went in, the police continued to keep us out. Though the hearing was supposed to be open to the public, no one (except a class of schoolchildren) was permitted inside. Activists were outraged at being locked out and when they questioned the cops and started shouting "Let the People In!", the cops began clearing the hallway. Gael was swept up, thrown to the ground, and arrested unexpectedly and without good reason. Check out the video of the scene here:

I waited on line patiently with another activist and a man from the American Legion for a couple more hours. I used my time in line to talk with Congresspeople when they left to attend a vote in the Capitol, and when they returned. I escorted reps to and from the elevator, reminding them of the importance of stopping the funding for Bush's war.

Finally, we were let into the room. The meeting was fascinating! At one point, Chairman Obey couldn't discern whether Murtha was proposing an amendment to the bill or an amendment to an amendment.

When the conversation turned to a discussion of the amendments that would finance "emergency" domestic issues (like spinach farmers and hurricane relief), I could not resist standing up to offer an amendment. I said that I would like to offer an amendment from the majority of the American people who want the troops home, that Congress not buy Bush's war, and fund domestic services instead. Fund education and healthcare, not occupation and warfare! It's simple: just don't buy Bush's war. Some people moaned and sighed, and I wish I had ore directly spoke to their resistance to hear from the public. If our reps aren't going to represent us, then we must speak up; we cannot remain silent. It's not like I want to be sitting in a windowless room all day listening to predominately old, white men make amendments to amendments. The point is that I feel a moral obligation to say something in light of the future death and destruction that the $100 billion will cause. Chairman Obey told me very respectfully to sit down. My fellow activista held up a pink sign. At the closing of the meeting, we stood on our chairs and sang "Can't Buy Me War" to Congress as they were filing out. Our singing made it onto CSPAN and CNN. I'm hoping it made it into a Congressperson or staffer's head too, and the chorus got wedged in there somewhere between power wielding and conscience.

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