WAND’s December Bulletin
December 15, 2011
Congressional Wrapping for 2011, Budget Packages for 2012
This week, Congress is working to untangle knotty spending and related issues, and heading home for the holidays.
The Senate and House have just reconciled their different versions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2012. The final measure contains controversial and disheartening provisions about detainees and authorization of military force that many say over-militarize our national security response to terrorism and endanger civil liberties. These provisions have led some advocates to call on lawmakers to oppose the bill. The White House, however, backed down on previous threats to veto the NDAA.
Afghanistan: We were pleased when, at the end of November, the Senate adopted the bipartisan Merkley amendment by voice vote in its version of the NDAA. This amendment called on the President to submit a plan for "expediting the drawdown of United States combat troops in Afghanistan." Unfortunately, the final NDAA changes the intent of this legislation. The language calling for accelerated drawdown of US troops is changed to accelerated "expansion of the capacity of the Afghan National Security Forces." As it is now written, the provision fails to address the need to bring our troops home. It instead encourages a prolonged effort at an "enduring partnership."
Nuclear Weapons: With regard to nuclear weapons provisions, the final NDAA is an improvement over the House bill – eliminating or scaling back objectionable measures and thus preserving Congress’ oversight responsibilities with regard to U.S. nuclear weapons policy. There were also some positive signs that a closer look at cutting excessive spending on nuclear weapons and related activities could be coming. For example, the NDAA requires a report assessing the costs and options for a fewer number of nuclear submarines than previously planned. The final NDAA also eliminates a $100 million increase for a ground-based midcourse missile defense system that the House had included. Finally, while a record high amount of $7.3 billion is provided for nuclear weapons complex “weapons activities,” this is $355 million less than the President& rsquo;s budget had requested.
Stay tuned for more WAND analysis of the final outcome of the NDAA
FY 2012 Appropriation
Also this week, Congress plans to complete its overdue Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 budget. (The fiscal year began October 1, 2011.) A Continuing Resolution providing funding at last year’s level is set to expire on December 16. There is a packaged “omnibus” appropriation measure prepared that would finalize the budget for FY 2012, but now this must-pass measure is being tied up with consideration of payroll taxes. Most observers believe that in the end a deal will be struck – there will not be a government shut down and Members of Congress will be home for Christmas. How exactly this will be done is not yet clear.
Super Committee Failure – Sequestration Cuts and Jobs
Just before Thanksgiving, the so-called “Super Committee”, or the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, failed to make any recommendation for deficit reductions over the coming decade, triggering automatic cuts –or “sequestration.” These sequestration cuts are planned to go into effect on January 1, 2013 and the Department of Defense is in line for a portion of the automatic cuts. Some have been seeking changes to exempt the Pentagon from these cuts. This debate will continue through the coming year. It should be noted that exempting the Pentagon from cuts will mean that deeper cuts are forced upon other budget priorities.
New Study on Job Creation Released!
Several years ago, a study by economists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst showed that military spending is less effective at creating jobs than investments in education, healthcare, clean energy or tax cuts. We’re excited to announce we have an updated version of this study! Once again, the economists found that military spending is a relatively poor job creator. With Congress engaged in heated debates about how to tackle unemployment and government spending, this updated study couldn't come at a better time! For more information and resources, please check out the military spending page on our website. Make sure your members of Congress know that you don’t want your tax dollars spent on programs that don’t keep us safer and don’t create as many jobs as other investments!
For more about how the budget process works (or how it’s supposed to work), see our guide: Budget Process Basics.
The Coming Holidays -- Counting our Blessings
WAND Executive Director, Susan Shaer, recently wrote an op-ed that was picked up by multiple papers throughout the country. The holidays provide a time of reflection and gratitude for what we have in the United States. Read Susan's op-ed and remember that even during these difficult times, we are truly fortunate.
As we celebrate the good news that our troops in Iraq are coming home for the holidays, we’re also pushing forward to expedite homecoming for troops in Afghanistan. As you reflect on this past decade of war and the toll it has taken, we especially recommend this op-ed: Our Children Will Finally Learn that Wars Can and Do End by Ryan McDermott.
Earlier this month David Cortright of the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame gave our WiLL state directors a broad overview of the status of women in Afghanistan. As we continue our work addressing the war in Afghanistan and women in Afghanistan, please be on the lookout for more opportunities to take action in the coming months! David will be speaking around the country. If you’d like to host him, please let us know! For further information, please contact Maureen Campbell at email@example.com or 202-544-5055 ext. 2603.
WiLL Pacesetter Rep. Karen Camper authored an excellent letter to the editor about the importance of nuclear non-proliferation funding. Read it here.
And don’t forget to check out our Pacesetter profiles at www.willwand.org! Once a week, we highlight one of the 10 WiLL members who received Pacesetter awards at the 2011 WiLL/WAND conference. These incredible, inspiring women represent just a portion of the great work done by WiLL members all over the country! We’re looking forward to working with our WiLL members in the new year!
Three New Endorsements for 2012!
WAND PAC is pleased to announce the endorsement of three new progressive women running for Congress in 2012.
Running in CA-51 is former State Senator Denise Moreno Ducheny. During her 12 years serving in both chambers of the state legislature, Ducheny was the first woman and first Latino to chair the Budget and Fiscal Review Committee and worked tirelessly to reform welfare, promote renewable energy projects, and invest in education and infrastructure.
Former Chief of Police Val Demings is running for Congress in FL-08. Demings became the first woman appointed Chief of Police in Orlando in 2007. During her tenure, Demings reduced incidences of robbery, shootings and murders in Orlando by forty percent before retiring after 27 years in the force.
In NM-01, County Commissioner Michelle Lujan Grisham is running for Congress. Grisham currently serves as the Bernalillo County Commissioner in New Mexico and is a health care consultant. She formerly served as Director of the Agency on Aging in New Mexico for 14 years and in 2004 was appointed Secretary of Health. Grisham also co-founded a small business specializing in management and consulting services for non-profits in health care reform.
Learn more about WAND PAC candidates on our website and be sure to support progressive women in 2012!
Chapter and Field News
New Advocacy Resources Available!
In this season of giving, WAND has created a number of new resources to help you promote peace in your communities. Download our Budget Priorities Toolkit to learn more about U.S. military spending. Push for the ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) by downloading our CTBT Toolkit & Postcards. And be sure to check out our latest advocacy materials for tips on writing effective letters to the editor and making your voice heard at town hall meetings.
WAND Chapters Support the 99%
With creativity and compassion, WAND chapters across the country continue to support local Occupy Wall Street movements in their communities. Occupy Little Rock participants have received food and supplies from Arkansas WAND. Georgia WAND continues to contribute to the Occupy Atlanta movement by supporting anti-foreclosure encampments. And Oregon WAND recently participated in a community conversation with the city Council to support the Occupy Eugene effort. Connect with your local WAND chapter to stand in solidarity with the Occupy movement and the 99%!
January 2012 Membership Month
WAND members – mothers, volunteers, activists, professionals, retirees – find that by taking steps together we can create positive change in our communities and, in fact, change the world. Join us in that pursuit by renewing your annual membership or becoming a WAND member in January 2012! Click here to learn about all the great benefits of WAND membership. Suggested annual dues are $50, but please give whatever you can afford. Your WAND membership counts no matter what amount you decide to give.
The Occupy movements show that we have to speak out loudly for an economy that works for all of us. Watch this short video about The Story of Broke . Learn how we can invest in the 21st century green economy by reprioritizing our spending away from wasteful government subsidies and the bloated Pentagon budget.
Then, encourage the youth in your community to participate in the 2nd annual If I Had a Trillion Dollars Youth Film Festival. This contest allows young people to demonstrate what they would do with a trillion dollars if we weren’t spending it on tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans or on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Winners get a free trip to Washington, DC to showcase their videos to members of Congress!