- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Grass-roots organizing on both sides of the war issue has been galvanized by debate and anti-war resolutions in the Democrat-controlled Congress, and it appears the advocacy will grow more intense.

Anti-war groups are following members of Congress home during their week off, while groups who support the war are targeting those they call “white flag Republicans” for defeat in the 2008 elections.

The anti-war movement has “very high expectations for this Congress,” said former Rep. Tom Andrews, Maine Democrat and national director of Win Without War.

“For the first time, there’s a hope for a check and a balance on the administration,” Mr. Andrews said. “Instead of banging your head against a wall, there’s a chance that you might actually make some progress.”

Win Without War is part of the Americans Against Escalation in Iraq coalition, which also includes MoveOn.org and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). The groups are lobbying members of Congress while they are in their home districts this week.

The anti-war coalition has created a list of public events for senators and representatives who support the president’s plan to send 21,500 more troops to Iraq. Mr. Andrews’ group is urging anti-war activists across the country to attend these events and persuade their members of Congress to stop supporting the surge.

Tomorrow, MoveOn will deliver letters to congressional offices, urging Congress to use its “power of the purse” to stop the surge by constraining or cutting off funding.

“They’re home for recess, and this is our best opportunity to influence what they do when they return to Washington. They need to know that we’re not going to rest until they start bringing our troops home,” said an e-mail to MoveOn supporters.

Rep. John P. Murtha, Pennsylvania Democrat, has outlined a strategy to limit President Bush’s use of war funds that have been requested in a supplemental appropriation to be reviewed next month.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, and Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, support Mr. Murtha’s plan, and they say it is not the equivalent of cutting off funding for troops in harm’s way.

Republicans say that constraining funding has “exactly the same effect as cutting off funding.”

“If you have people … who need reinforcements desperately and they have to have those reinforcements within a matter of hours, and the reinforcements can’t go because the Democrats have put down metrics that say it’s unlawful for this Marine machine gunner to leave Camp Pendleton because he hasn’t done his requisite 14 months in the States before he goes overseas, you’ve had exactly the same effect,” said Rep. Duncan Hunter, California Republican and ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee.

Meanwhile, a grass-roots conservative group, called the Victory Caucus, is targeting the 17 congressmen and seven senators whom they have labeled “white flag Republicans.”

The 17 congressmen Friday voted with the Democrat-led resolution opposing the president’s surge plan. The seven senators voted Saturday to shut out Republican amendments to an anti-surge resolution.

The Victory Caucus, led by conservative radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt, is now looking for Republican primary candidates to challenge these legislators.

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