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Lobbying for bills to cut risk of nuclear war

By Kristin Scheer

Several PeaceWorks-KC leaders secured a virtual meeting Oct. 7 with senior legislative aide Kate Rohr for US Rep. Sharice Davids (D-KS) to discuss two bills that we wanted Rep. Davids to be aware of, vote for, and cosponsor.

On the call, Charles Carney, Dave Pack, Henry and Jane Stoever, and I shared our appreciation for Rep. Davids’ actions, for example, on protecting the environment. Charles said he had made over 1,000 calls for her, and I said I had knocked on doors for her. We said we wanted Rep. Davids to know how important these bills concerning nuclear weapons were to us and to the communities we live in. We covered points other PeaceWorks members could make with other legislators.

The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) made these posters from a rallying cry of Martin Luther King Jr.–Photo courtesy of FCNL

Charles spoke of HR 2227, Investing in Cures Before Missiles Act of 2021. He said, “This bill would save $37 billion,” leaving intact the effective Minuteman III missiles (ICBMs or intercontinental ballistic missiles) without developing more expensive and dangerous weapon delivery systems. Charles noted that the bill cites a 2020 poll showing 60 percent of registered voters supported keeping the Minuteman III, and only 26 percent wanted to replace it. The bill would delete funds meant for a new missile system and instead apply some funds to research to save lives from emerging diseases such as COVID-19.

Henry spoke of HR 669, Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2021. “The framers of our Constitution could not have foreseen giving one person the power to unleash a nuclear war. Under our laws,” he said, “only Congress can declare war. Yet a president can choose to launch a nuclear war.” In light of recent concerns over the stability of the Trump presidency and conversations we now know Gen. Mark Milley, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was having with his commanders and the head of the Chinese military to prevent a nuclear war, we can see how dangerous this possibility is. Henry concluded, “We need to install a system of checks and balances so that civilians and military persons can properly judge if a real threat already exists or if this is a matter for Congress to review and declare an emergency.”

Dave repeated our request that Rep. Davids support the two bills. He observed, “People naturally have a concern about their security. But where does our real security come from?” He suggested that funds should go less toward war and weapons and more toward reversing climate change and meeting people’s needs such as health, including research on COVID-19.

We encourage others similarly concerned to get involved and contact your lawmakers. Thank Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II (D-MO) for cosponsoring HR 669. Note: The companion bill to HR 2227 in the Senate is S 982; the companion to HR 669 is S 1148. For more info, contact Henry at 913-375-0045 or henrystoever@sbcglobal.net.

Kristin Scheer, an environmental activist, serves on the PeaceWorks-KC Board.

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