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We won the debate and are close to winning Congress! PDF Print E-mail

SOA Watch Legislative Update & Action Alert
June 9, 2006 at 7:00 pm

We won the debate and
are close to winning Congress!

Your work and the amazing contributions of over 40 national religious, labor and political organizations delivered an incredible vote today in what is possibly the most conservative Congress in U.S. history. Because of you, for the first time in six years, we won the debate, and we had a vote in Congress that garnered the support of 188 Representatives who voted to cut funding the School of the Americas/ WHINSEC, including almost 30 Republicans!

Today's session was a critical day in our ongoing campaign to close the School of the Americas and to bring accountability to a ?school of shame.? Now we know where Members of the House stand ? and who we need to target. You now have the opportunity to invite at least 55 Members who voted with us but who aren?t yet co-sponsors of HR 1217 to sign on to our bill to suspend and investigate the SOA/ WHISNEC. See the final roll call here: http://www.soaw.org/legislative

This week you successfully leveraged more pressure on Congress than was leveraged on any other issue, and you had the Republican leadership in the House worried about the vote. At the last minute, the right wing pulled out all the stops to get the bare minimum of votes needed ? 218 ? to defeat the amendment.

Our bill, HR 1217, is still alive! Today?s amendment vote is a good marker for us, and it will continue to serve as a tool for educating Members of Congress. Today?s vote will keep up our momentum as we continue to build support for HR 1217!

Our supporters won today?s debate hands-down. Representatives Lowey (NY), the ranking member of the House; Barbara Lee (CA), of the Human Rights Caucus; Schakowsky (IL); Meehan (MA); Kucinich (OH); and McGovern (MA) laid out strong arguments in favor of cutting funding to WHINSEC, citing serious concerns over human rights abuses, over the harm the institution does to relationships with Latin American nations and over known human rights abusers returning to WHINSEC.

Each Representative in favor of the amendment gave compelling and specific examples that supported their arguments. Those speaking against the amendment were not nearly as eloquent -- and didn't even have enough speakers to fill their time!

We have had an unprecedented level of success with our bill, HR 1217. We have more Republicans as co-sponsors than we?ve ever had; about 30 Republicans voted with us today; and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the House Minority Leader, a majority of the Human Rights Caucus and Budget Chairman Jim Nussle (R-IA) are on board with the bill.

We have made incredible strides forward, and we know that one day this school of torture, this school of coups, this school of repression will be closed down for good. We are continuing to grow our movement here in North America. Three South American countries have already pulled out of the school, and more may be on the way! Across the Americas, major social change is happening, and people?s movements continue to elect leaders that listen to the will of the people. There is much about which we can be hopeful. Now as we continue the momentum you must take action!

Take action:

1. Thank your Member of Congress if she or he voted with us

It?s really important that we thank Representatives who voted with us on this amendment, and that we continue to build relationships with staffers in their offices.

It?s also important that we hold Representatives accountable. If you Rep did not represent your views in Washington, we urge you to contact her or him by writing a letter and expressing your disappointment that she or he did not vote according to your wishes. Ask your Representative to provide an explanation for why she or he voted the way they did. If you receive a response, please forward a copy to the Legislative Coordinator in the DC office.

See the final Roll Call showing how each Representatitve voted: June 2006 Vote Results.

2. Continue to build support for HR 1217

Our bill is still alive and now has more support!

Keep working on those Representatives that haven?t yet co-sponsored. Check out the Legislative Action Index at http://www.soaw.org/legislative for how your Rep voted on this amendment. If they are not currently a cosponsor of HR 1217, this is an opportunity for us to add additional cosponsors to the bill to close and investigate the SOA/ WHINSEC. Contact the Foreign Affairs Legislative Aide in your Rep's DC office and urge them to add their boss as a cosponsor to HR 1217.

3. Make your plans now to attend this year's Vigil to Close the School of the Americas: November 17-19, 2006

This November 17-19, thousands will gather at the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia for the Vigil to Close the School of the Americas! Following on the heels of our powerful 2005 gathering and our first vote in Congress in six years, this year's Vigil is shaping up to be a powerful time for movement building and an effective tool in the campaign to close the SOA/ WHINSEC.

Read more, find out hotel, travel and accessibility information and more.

4. Get more involved in the campaign!

Many of you have gotten very involved in legislative work over the past few months. We?d love to have you stay involved! Consider joining the Legislative Working Group, and help us to continue to shape our Congressional strategy. For more information, contact Pam Bowman at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or at 202-234-3440.

5. Fund the continuing legislative campaign and the campaign to encourage more Latin American countries to reject the SOA

For SOA Watch to become a movement that has the power to make real change and to close the School of the Americas once and for all, the organization needs your financial support. Every dollar is needed. Please take a moment now to make a donation. Thank you!

Make a secure donation through the SOA Watch website.

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phone: 202-234-3440
email: info@soaw.org