WASHINGTON – Six war protesters from Maine remained in town after this weekend’s anti-war rally to seek support from Maine’s congressional delegation for legislation to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq.
“We asked Congress to consider de-funding the war by voting against the [military] appropriations bill due in February,” said Charles Alexander of Ellsworth, who attended meetings with congressional staffers Monday morning.
He said the response from Rep. Michael Michaud’s office “was quite favorable, since he has voted against the last three military appropriations bills.”
However, Alexander said Rep. Tom Allen’s staff spoke more cautiously. Alexander met with Todd Stein, the congressman’s deputy director of staff.
“Rep. Allen seems worried that by de-funding the war he will be de-funding the troops,” Alexander said. Allen is more interested in amendments to the appropriations bill that would de-fund escalating the war, Alexander said.
Mark Sullivan, press secretary for Allen, said the congressman firmly opposes the war.
“[Allen] has spoken out strongly in opposition to the president’s policies and against the troop escalation,” said Sullivan. “And he has called for redeployment to begin immediately to bring the troops home.”
The Maine protesters presented a signed petition against the troop increase to legislative aides to the Democratic congressmen and to Sam Horton, a senior policy adviser to Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe, Alexander said.
The petition, signed by scores of bus passengers from Maine as they drove down to Saturday’s protest, also called for bringing troops home from Iraq as soon as possible, said Tim McCormick of Ellsworth, who also met with the congressional staffers Monday.
“They are beginning to see which way the wind blows,” McCormick said in regards to Maine’s congressional delegation. “I think that as long as people keep the issue front and center, sooner or later, hopefully sooner, we will get the army out of Iraq.”
The anti-war advocates were unable to schedule an appointment with Republican Sen. Susan Collins Monday, Alexander said. Collins and Sens. John Warner, R-Va., and Ben Nelson, D-Neb., have introduced a resolution opposing the president’s planned troop increase in Iraq.
Snowe last week joined Democratic Sens. Joe Biden of Delaware and Carl Levin of Michigan as well as Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska when they proposed a competing bipartisan resolution against troop escalation.
Alexander and McCormick said their efforts did not go unnoticed after meeting with the congressional staffers on Capitol Hill after the weekend protest.
“All the offices are very much aware of the size of the demonstration this weekend,” said Alexander. “And they are all aware that there is a huge amount of concern at home.”