We have work to do, after the mid-term elections!
What does the outcome of the midterm election mean for FCNL’s work on Capitol Hill? Yes, we have more work. What is that work? Advancing Nuclear Disarmament and Ending the Endless War, so that the federal budget will be rebalanced, human needs will be met, human rights and the rule of law will be respected, and so that we will free ourselves from our hydrocarbon, polluting economic system and construct for future generations a new sustainable-energy civilization.
What does the mid term election mean for FCNL? We need to look at that question in two timelines, first, the lame duck session of the 111th Congress and, second, the convening of the 112th Congress in January.
The Lame Duck Session of the 111th Congress:
The mid term elections, for the most part, do not change the seats in the lame duck session of the 111th Congress. We have to work with the same House until the new Congress is installed in January 2011. Most senators will remain the same, although the newly elected senators from West Virginia, Delaware, Illinois, and (possibly) Colorado will be seated during the lame duck session because they were elected to replace mid-term appointments.
The 111th Congress will reconvene on November 15th. They will stay for about five days and, then, recess for Thanksgiving. They will return November 29th for five days or until Christmas Eve. No one knows for sure.
Everyone knows that the 111th Congress must pass a spending bill, either an omnibus appropriations bill to “write checks” for fiscal year 2011 spending or a continuing resolution, a CR (to temporarily continue spending at current levels until the new Congress convenes).
FCNL is focused on two priorities for the lame duck session of the 111th Congress, one on the House side and one on the Senate side. Let’s take the Senate first.
Senate Lame Duck Session:
Before the 111th Congress adjourns, FCNL wants Congress to act on several important issues, but, here, I’m going to focus on two. We want the Senate to debate and vote on the ratification of the New START treaty. We believe that we now have the 67 votes to ratify that nuclear arms reduction deal between the U.S. and Russia, but those votes don’t mean a thing, if the Senate doesn’t take a vote on ratification. We need you to contact your senators now to ask them to do two things:
- Ask your Senators to demand that their leadership provide time on the Senate floor for a debate and vote on New START, BEFORE the adjournment of the 111th Congress, and
- appeal to your Senators to vote to ratify the New START treaty.
House Lame Duck Session:
Before the 111th Congress adjourns, we want every member of the House of Representatives to join Representative Barbara Lee (CA) in calling for the repeal of the September 2001 Authorization of the Use of Military Force (AUMF). The AUMF brought you the 2001 U.S. military invasion of Afghanistan and the quagmire there today; it brought you the 2003 U.S. military invasion of Iraq and the seven years of war there (it’s not over yet); it created the conditions for U.S. sponsored torture, the emblem of which is Abu Ghraid, the indefinite detention of so-called enemy combatants, the creation of virtue “law free zones” like Guantanamo, running of more than a trillion dollar deficit for war and for spying, and established what Defense Secretary Rumsfeld called “the endless war.” Repealing the September 2001 AUMF is a step away from that endless war. Rep. Barbara Lee is leading the way. You can help her by getting your representative to join as a cosponsor.
The Convening of the 112th Congress:
The new Congress will convene in January. The Democrats have retained its majority in the Senate, but they now have a smaller, very narrow majority, including a couple of Independent senators. The Republicans have taken back the majority in the House, and they have a very large majority, there. We can be sure of two things which will affect the 112th Congress. First, the House Republicans will have begun already to plan how they will organize the House committees and operations when they assume the majority leadership in January. Second, both major parties will be in 2012 presidential election campaign mode starting today. A question is whether Congress will also be in a governing mode? Will they seek to govern by solving vexing national and international problems? Or will they seek to use problems to advance their electoral strategies? Or can they do both at the same time?
FCNL’s job continues as always. What is our job? FCNL’s job is to inform and persuade members of Congress and the Executive Branch about our General Committee’s legislative priorities. FCNL’s General Committee will set its legislative priorities for the 112th Congress at its Annual Meeting next week here in Washington. You can still register to participate in the FCNL Annual Meeting. It starts the evening of November 11th with a look at the mid term elections and FCNL’s future work and concludes Sunday with Meeting for Worship in the manner of Friends. You’re encouraged to stay for FCNL’s annual legislative briefing and lobby day, Sunday and Monday.
Come join us! We have work to do, and we could use your help. — JV