Action Alert: Ask your Rep to vote against slamming the door on Syrian refugees

November 18, 2015


If we don’t mobilize quickly, in the next few days, Congress may shut the door on long-suffering Syrian refugee families.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan told House Republicans yesterday that he wants a vote this week to block Syrian refugee resettlement.

Can you call Congress today and ask them to vote against slamming the door on Syrian refugees?  The bill we are opposing is officially titled HR 4038 – The American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act. It was introduced last night.

Call the Capitol Switchboard: 844-735-1362

Ask to speak with your Representative and tell them the following:

“I strongly support the U.S welcoming Syrian refugees. Please vote against of HR 4038 – The American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act designed to turn away the refugees.”

The level of misinformation broadcast by governors and presidential candidates about refugee resettlement has been staggering. Many critics claimed that there’s “no real vetting” of Syrian refugees. In fact, refugees receive greater scrutiny than any other group coming into the country. They are vetted by the UN and then by multiple US agencies long before they get here. This rigorous process often takes years.

The moral stakes are simple — the golden rule on a global scale. What would we want for our families if our communities were torn apart by unthinkable violence?  The United States has a proud tradition of welcoming the persecuted. Now is no time to turn back on that tradition.

The fear-mongering is as strategically short-sighted as it is morally repugnant. Most analysts believe that the Paris attacks were designed to invite a backlash against refugees and Muslims. Such a backlash is powerful fuel for the sense of grievance that is the lifeblood of ISIS recruitment.

Please call the Capitol Switchboard now: 844-735-1362. Urge your representative to vote no on bills that would stop the US from welcoming these refugees.

Thank you in advance for your compassionate action.

Humbly for Peace,

Kevin Martin
Executive Director
Peace Action

Budget Deal Reached, Pentagon Gives Thanks

November 13, 2015

After years of gridlock and partisan rancor, the budget impasse may finally be broken. The President won increases in ‘non-defense’ spending as part of the deal, but the Pentagon will still gobble up more than 50% of the discretionary budget.  Allowed to increase spending at this pace, the Pentagon can look forward to its first trillion-dollar budget a decade from now.

Peace Action opposes the planned increases in Pentagon spending to $548 billion in fiscal 2016 and $551 billion in fiscal 2017.

The agreement would also increase the Pentagon slush fund, the Overseas Contingency Operations Fund (OCO), which is not subject to the budget caps. The deal would allow about $16 billion more than President Obama requested bringing the total number of tax dollars at the Pentagon’s disposal to over $600 billion for fiscal 2016.

Holding our elected leaders accountable for their rubber stamp approach to war and weapons spending is the first step.  With elections less than a year away, Peace Action is doing just that through our Peace Voter campaign.  Here’s an example of that work, as Will Hopkins, Executive Director of New Hampshire Peace Action asks Hillary Clinton about her “close ties to elements within the military industrial complex” last month on the Today show.

Peace Action continues to work with our allies on Capitol Hill pressing Congress to cut funding for big ticket items like the F-35 and nuclear overkill.  We are investing resources in our grassroots campaign to Move the Money from the Pentagon to meet the needs of our communities, working to build and strengthen local coalitions.  Over the past three years we have conducted workshops in 10 states training local activists in the workings – inside and out – of military budgets. Presently, we are planning trainings in Florida and Oregon for 2016.

More money for high-tech weaponry and unending war means less for our communities and people in need and less invested in green technologies necessary to avert climate disaster.  The federal budget is all about choices.

The federal budget represents our priorities as a nation and it should reflect our values. But powerful ideological forces and financial interests have hijacked the budget process for their own gain.

Martin Luther King Jr challenged us with the admonition, ‘those who love peace must learn to organize as effectively as those who love war.’

The political power required to bring democracy to decisions on federal budget priorities and foreign and military policies is not beyond us.  We are more than capable and we will make it happen.

Peace Talks To End Syrian War Begin

November 12, 2015

Negotiations to end the ‘nonstop horror’ of the Syrian civil war have begun. Peace Action applauds the parties for finally getting to the table – better late than never – but decries the endless political machinations that caused the governments involved from doing so long ago.  These same calculations are still in play, however, and hope for a ceasefire and finally, an end to the war, is still tenuous at best.

For that reason, we – and our peace movement allies – are continuing to collect signatures on our petition calling for a political settlement to the Syrian civil war.  If you haven’t signed, please do.  If you have, please forward the link to your friends and family and ask them to join the effort.

Peace Action is supporting a bi-partisan emergency spending bill introduced by Senators Leahy (D-VT) and Graham (R-SC) that would would allow for resettlement of up to 100,000 refugees over 2 years and provide a billion dollars to help deal with the refugee crisis caused by the Syrian civil war.  It’s a human catastrophe that we can’t close our eyes to, yet the U.S. has taken in less than 1,500 Syrian refugees. In contrast, countries like Lebanon have taken in 1.1 million. The U.S. plans on taking in only 10,000 refugees next year – Germany did that in a day.

Please call your Senators today and ask them to co-sponsor the Leahy-Graham bill to provide emergency relief to those who have been displaced by over 4 years of brutal warfare. The number is 202.224.3121.

There They Go Again, R’s Still Trying to Scuttle the Iran Peace Accord!

September 16, 2015


If by the end of tomorrow no legislation is passed to oppose the Iran agreement, it will move forward.  Republicans have tried to ditch the accord but Democrats in the Senate have blocked them twice now.  Even if such a bill passed, President Obama would veto and it is very clear that there is enough support for the Iran accord to sustain the veto.

Nevertheless, Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) continues to play games by forcing useless votes.

Last night, after the Democrats blocked an opposition vote, McConnell introduced an amendment prohibiting the Iran accord from proceeding until Iran recognizes Israel’s right to exist and frees the American prisoners in Iran.  These are important issues but completely separate from the nuclear agreement.

Clearly, this is a last minute attempt by Republicans to embarrass Democrats and kill diplomacy with Iran that six countries negotiated over several years to limit Iran’s nuclear program and keep it peaceful.

We expect votes to occur tomorrow night, so please dial (855) 68 NO WAR (66 927 toll free) to reach both your Senators now and say:

I am a constituent and I support the Iran agreement as is.  I want my Senator to oppose any attempts to delay, change or kill the important Iran accord.

While we are pretty sure we have the votes to move the Iran deal forward, we will not declare victory until tomorrow’s votes are finished.  Even then, we expect hawks in Congress to continue to make implementing the Iran agreement difficult.  With your calls, we will prevail.

Peacefully yours,

Kevin Martin
Executive Director
Peace Action

P.S. – Efforts by Senate Republicans to kill the Iran accord must be stopped.  Though they have been defeated twice, several votes will occur tomorrow to thwart the Iran agreement.  Please call both your Senators now and say:

“I am a constituent and I support the Iran agreement as is.  I want my Senator to oppose any attempts to delay, change or kill the important Iran accord.”

After calling, please forward this important email.

*Thanks to Friends Committee on National Legislation for the toll-free number.

Senate shenanigans on Iran accord continue, but Peace is greater than Fear!

September 15, 2015


Who knows why, but the Senate is again “debating” (I’d say speechifying) the Iran nuclear accord. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) scheduled another cloture vote for 6:00 today (with the vote being held open for several hours because of Rosh Hashanah)  less than a week after the last vote failed 58-42 (60 votes are needed to invoke cloture, end debate and move to a vote on a piece of legislation). Even worse, they may do it again on Thursday.

UPDATE, 6:45 Eastern time — Majority “Leader” McConnell a short while ago said if cloture failed again as expected, he will file an amendment (to what is TBD) stopping the president from lifting sanctions on Iran until it formally recognizes “Israel’s right to exist” (his words) and releases all US prisoners. Grandstanding? I guess we’ll see. 

This is a waste of time, as the House action was last Friday. The Iran nuclear agreement will go into effect once the Congressional review period expires in two days. Republicans want to:

a. embarrass the president and force him to veto their disapproval of the accord (not happening);

b. stage a show vote for the benefit of AIPAC, Netanyahu and the “pro-Israel lobby”;

c. avoid doing the peoples’ business (like, say, passing funding bills to keep the government functioning);

d. all of the above?

To me this isn’t even the real question. It’s what are the opponents of diplomacy afraid of? To hear their speeches, Iran is the worst threat to life on Earth ever, and even more, the most fiendishly clever country ever to engage in diplomatic negotiations. Somehow Iran was able to hornswoggle the US, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, China and Russia at the bargaining table to get an agreement that will let Iran run amok over the security concerns of everyone else in the region, more or less.


Time to reject fear, which is the only tool the opponents of the Iran peace accord have.

Diplomacy, and Peace, are greater than Fear.

Peace Action Applauds Senate Vote to Uphold Iran Peace Deal

September 10, 2015


September 10, 2015




Washington, DC—Peace Action, the country’s largest peace and disarmament organization, founded in 1957, hailed today’s Senate vote to uphold the Iran nuclear agreement negotiated by the U.S. and its allies with Iran.


“What a great day for those who support diplomacy as the best way to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons,” exclaimed Kevin Martin, Executive Director. “Peace Action chapters, affiliates, associates, members and supporters have worked for diplomacy and against war with Iran since 2004, and are very gratified to see our hard work pay off. May this be the start of a new era for U.S. policy in the Middle East.”


Martin noted there may well be further twists and turns as Senate and House opponents of the nuclear agreement resort to parliamentary and legal gymnastics to try to kill the accord.


“Diplomacy rejectionists are on the wrong side of not just of this issue, but of history. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JPOA, as the Iran accord is formally known) will go forward and provide a strong foundation for enhanced security in the region, and hopefully a new relationship between the peoples of Iran and the United States.”



Update on Congress and Iran Accord: Sausage and legislation…

September 9, 2015


…are still the two things one doesn’t want to watch being made (well I’ve had some very good vegan sausages lately which one probably could watch being made but that’s beside the point). Opponents of the Iran nuclear peace accord are in a lather to try anything and everything to kill it, and they don’t have much time, what with other important congressional business staring them down, including another possible government shut-down at the end of the month. (Tempted to ask, all in favor say “Aye!”)

Long story short-ish: In the Senate, we have 42 senators (all Democrats) in favor of the Iran accord, which is better than we expected. This means the Iran deal will most likely survive. If both Houses actually vote to disapprove the deal, which is now somewhat in question as the next paragraph will explain, the 42 Senate supporters would uphold a presidential veto of the disapproval vote, and we expect we will have similar support of at least 1/3 of the House of Representatives (a 2/3 majority vote is needed to override a presidential veto).

The Senate plans to vote on the Iran accord tomorrow, 9/11, very cynical. There is some (un-) senatorial to-ing and fro-ing about procedure that is too arcane to bother with, so let’s just keep it simple. Please call your senators to make sure they know you support the agreement as negotiated with no funny business, no amendments. The Capitol Switchboard is at 202/ 224-3121. Calls only take a minute or two, ask to speak to your senators (this means two calls) and just let them know you support the Iran peace deal.

In the House, there is a revolt by members of the Liberty Caucus who claim, absurdly, at the 11th hour, that the vote cannot take place, and as a matter of fact that the congressional time period for acting (or not) on the agreement is in fact not over September 17th, as previously agreed all around, but that the 60 day clock has not even started since the Obama Administration did not transmit to Congress two “side agreements” between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that the White House doesn’t even have access to, as is customary in IAEA agreements with countries where it is inspecting nuclear facilities. Scratching your head? Don’t blame you.

This plan was hatched Tuesday night at a Republican conference meeting in the basement of a Tortilla Coast restaurant on Capitol Hill, overturning the Rules Committee’s agreement from that very afternoon on how to treat the vote. One is tempted to speculate it was after several pitchers of margaritas.

So now instead of the expected resolution to disapprove the agreement, it appears the House will vote Friday on the following three pieces of sausage, I mean legislation:

  • H. Res. 411—Finding that the President has not complied with section 2 of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 (the bill that established the congressional review process and 60 day period). This is a non-binding resolution meant to set up a lawsuit against the president.
  • H.R. 3460—To suspend until January 21, 2017, the authority of the President to waive, suspend, reduce, provide relief from, or otherwise limit the application of sanctions pursuant to an agreement related to the nuclear program of Iran (this would effectively kill the deal, but if passed would be vetoed by the president and upheld if an override vote were held).
  • H.R. 3461—To approve the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, signed at Vienna on July 14, 2015, relating to the nuclear program of Iran (this of course will fail since all Republicans at this point oppose the deal, and is meant to embarrass the president and the deal supporters).

Again, this is more than one could be expected to understand, even many of us who have done this kind of work for a long time. To simplify, just call your representative (same number as above) and tell her or him to ignore the tomfoolery and sausage slicing and dicing and support the diplomatic accord with Iran that is supported by most of the world.



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