Lawmakers launch Out of Iraq Caucus

LOS ANGELES — On June 15, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and five other members of Congress stood up before a House Democratic leadership luncheon in Washington and announced the formation of an official “Out of Iraq Caucus.” Waters said, “The Out of Iraq Working Group is a newly formed effort whose sole purpose is to be the main agitators in the movement to bring our troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan.”

By June 18 the caucus had grown to 41 members, and by June 27 that number had jumped to 64.

At a June 18 community meeting at the Mount Carmel Senior Center here, Waters said she told the entire Democratic House membership that they “were elected on a platform of peace, justice and equality. We can no longer keep quiet waiting for our party and our caucus to speak out against this war. The American people are unhappy with this war and they are expecting us to provide leadership to end this war and bring our troops home.”

Waters outlined how the administration had lied to justify the war, how there was no pullout date or exit strategy, how our troops were dying, forced to kill innocent people, reconstruction funds misused and money drained from domestic social needs.

That evening, speaking to peace activists at a public forum featuring Iraqi trade unionists at L.A.’s Patriotic Hall, Waters said the caucus will coordinate antiwar activities of Congress, hold regular meetings, coordinate with national peace groups, and work with families and veterans against the war.

The caucus met June 21 to begin organizing itself and to plan future activities. On June 23, caucus members formally addressed the House, outlining their reasons for forming the caucus and calling for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

Peace groups like United For Peace and Justice have called on activists across the nation to urge their representatives join the caucus. The Paul Robeson Community Center in South Los Angeles started a Peace Committee, whose initial tasks included organizing a letter-writing campaign to Waters, congratulating her for her efforts in founding the caucus.