CONGRESSIONAL CO-SPONSORS

NOW

Immediately after Delegate Norton first introduced her "Nuclear Disarmament and Economic Conversion Act," there were eight co-sponsors to the bill 1/: Earl Hilliard (D-Alabama), Walter Tucker III (D-California), John Lewis and Cynthia McKinney (D-Georgia), Albert Wynn (D-Maryland), James Oberstar and David Minge (D-Minnesota), and Charles Rangle (D-New York). All but Walter Tucker and David Minge were re-elected in 2000.

All were the result of a single letter or visit from a constituent.

During the 104th and 105th Congress (1995-98), most progressive Congressional leaders were caught up in the Republican Revolution, and had time for little else. There were no official co-sponsors after Ms. Norton re-introduced the legislation in 1995 and 1997 (although Elizabeth Furse of Oregon verbally promised to sign on towards the end of the 105th term, and then retired).

By Spring, 2000, on the eve of Russia's ratifying the Comprehensive Test Ban and START II treaties, there were four co-sponsors: Representatives Lynn Woolsey and Fortney Pete Stark from California, and Cynthia McKinney and John Lewis from Georgia. The bill never got out of Committees and once again died at the end of the 106th Congress.

When Congresswoman Norton re-introduced her bill as HR-2503 on July 16, 2001, Representative Cynthia McKinney (Georgia)* immediately signed on again as a co-sponsor. Shortly thereafter the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, then the anthrax attack on Congress, brought Congressional clear-thinking to a screeching halt. Introduced on July 26, 2003 as H. R. 2647, it again had no co-sponsors, but on March 16, 2005, when introduced as H. R. 1348, Representatives Sheila Jackson-Lee of Texas, Lynn Woolsey of California, John Lewis and Cynthia McKinney of Georgia signed on. It was re-introduced for the eighth time as HR-1826 on March 29, 2007, with no co-sponsors. In 2009 John Lewis and Lynn Woolsey's aides repeatedly told us that they signed on to HR-1653, although you'd never know about it by searching Congressional bills. In 2011, after some marked revisions in the language, there were four co-sponsors for HR-1334, Representatives Steve Cohen of Tennessee, Bob Filner of California, Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, and Fortney Pete Stark of California. Again, John Lewis and Lynn Woolsey's aides said they were signing on, but it didn't appear on the Library of Congress website.

Current Cosponsors

Of course, many co-sponsors are needed before this legislation gets out of the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committees. It's very important to ask these Committees not to amend the language of the bill, but instead to clear it for a vote of the full House of Representatives. It is also very important to get Senate sponsorship.

The U.S. is at a very dangerous turning point. Whatever it chooses, it sets the pace. How can one honestly expect Iran or North Korea or Al Qaeda to renounce nuclear weapons if the U.S. and other nuclear weapons states are unwilling to do so? Treaties are unenforceable without national law reinforcing them. That is the purpose of Proposition One.

With the growing global pressure for abolition of nuclear weapons; with 187 countries (including the U.S.) agreeing in May, 2000, to "an unequivocal undertaking" to eliminate their nuclear arsenals; with revelations in 1996 by retired generals and admirals that nuclear weapons are unsafe, unnecessary, and insane; with constituents still looking for the "Peace Dividend"; with everybody terrified of "dirty bombs" -- this bill's time has come.

You can help! LOBBY!!!>

Write letters. Make phone calls. Tell friends and colleagues. Two thousand bills are introduced into Congress each year. Your politicians say they NEED to hear from you. Educate them. Ask them to actively co-sponsor Eleanor Holmes Norton's Conversion/Disarmament Act of 2003: HR-2647.

Co-sponsors are needed from Republicans as well as Democrats before the bill is likely to pass through the House Committees on International Relations and on Armed Services, much less hope to succeed on the floor in a general vote. Much remains to be done. It's not difficult to convince Congressional leaders that the bill is in the best interest of their constituents, when they understand that domestically it would earmark funds for conversion and cleanup, and internationally it requires ALL countries with nuclear weapons to join the U.S. in disarming. Please contact your Congressional leaders and insist that they co-sponsor in the House, and sponsor in the Senate.

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1/ -- This legislation is a "bill," and thus binding, not a "resolution," which is only a feel-good statement of principle that achieves nothing of substance.