CODEPINK Stages Protest as War Bill Passes

Posted June 19, 2008 at 7:54pm

After reaching a rare bipartisan deal, the House passed the two-pronged war supplemental on Thursday night despite concern from conservative Democrats and outright opposition from anti-war lawmakers.

By a vote of 268-155, lawmakers approved $161 billion to continue the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan into 2009.

By a vote of 416-12, the House passed the domestic spending portion of the bill that includes expanded GI benefits, extended unemployment insurance benefits and billions in flood relief funding. Despite previous grievances about supporting $62 billion in veterans education benefits without paying for them, all of the Blue Dog Democrats voted for the final domestic package.

Since the particulars of the bill were already worked out in advance of the vote, the only real drama on the floor was when anti-war protesters from the group CODEPINK stood up in the balcony and threw “bloodied” dollar bills onto the House floor.

Shortly afterward, House Republican Conference Chairman Adam Putnam (Fla.), who had been hit by some of the falling bills, was overheard telling a Capitol police officer that he wasn’t going to press charges against the protestors. The officer had been collecting the bills and putting them into a plastic bag as “evidence.”

“It would just give the a——s more of a forum,” Putnam said.

During the vote, anti-war protesters threw 164 single-dollar bills covered in “blood” onto the House floor Thursday night as lawmakers vote to approve continued funding for the Iraq War.

A member of CODEPINK dressed in regular clothes – as opposed to the group’s typical pink garb – stood up in the balcony and threw $164 covered with red fingerprints onto the floor when Members begin to vote on the bill. Each dollar symbolizes a billion more dollars being spent in the war supplemental.

Five other CODEPINK members stood in the audience dressed in more ostentatious outfits in support of the move, but did not partake in the money toss.

“I think [Democratic leaders] are embarrassed of what they’re doing and we’re one of the few people who know it,” said Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CODEPINK.

Earlier Thursday, CODEPINKers visited House leadership offices and read aloud a statement to staff about the need to end the war in Iraq. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) were among those paid a visit.

The statement blasts Democratic leaders for having “conspired with the White House to keep the war in Iraq going well into the next administration.”

Continuing funding for Iraq is “a complete betrayal of the American people who voted for a new Congress in 2006,” the statement reads.

“The American people do not want $165 billion more of our tax dollars going for war. You can’t find money for decent education, or health care for our children, yet you continue to pump hundreds of billions of our money into a war that the American people do not support. This is not democratic. This is not moral. Shame on you for betraying the American people and defiling our democracy,” it adds.

CODEPINK members also left each office a paper with the image of a bloody handprint on it and taped another bloody print on their doors. Throughout the day, activists handed out bloody handprints to lawmakers who had previously voted for war funding as they came into the Capitol to vote.