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Voices / Letters from readers

Why won’t senator meet about Yemen war powers resolution?

Vermont constituents concerned about the war in Yemen have repeatedly requested a meeting with U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders to no avail.

On Jan. 25, there was a car caravan in Brattleboro that was part of a global day of action (“World Says ‘No!’ to War in Yemen”). A copy of an article in the Brattleboro Reformer was sent to the senator’s staff with no forthcoming response.

This past winter, about a dozen activists and leaders of churches, Vermont nonprofit organizations, peace and justice leaders, and foreign-policy leaders from around the state had two meetings with Sanders’ staff, including his senior foreign policy advisor. They asked his timeline for introducing a Yemen war powers resolution to end the unauthorized U.S. participation in the war.

The chief of staff offered a meeting but despite multiple requests has not yet offered an actual time to meet with Bernie Sanders himself.

In July, 10 Vermont organizations wrote to Sanders reiterating the request that he introduce the Yemen war powers resolution. The senior staff continued to decline to allow a specific meeting time to be set.

Just a few weeks ago, VtDigger ran an op-ed piece by James Haslam and Zoraya Hightower calling for the same. In September, activists sent a copy of that piece to multiple Sanders staff members reiterating a request for a constituent meeting with Bernie Sanders himself. That specific request was not addressed.

In October, Politico wrote about Yemeni Americans who wrote a letter to Bernie Sanders and his colleagues expressing concerns about related war powers legislation that he had introduced. Vermont activists sent this article to his senior staff and did not receive a response.

While Bernie Sanders has introduced other related legislation, it lacks the political teeth that a Yemen war powers resolution has to actually pass the Senate and then go to the president’s desk.

Since the beginning of this year, Vermont leaders have been calling for a meeting with Sanders himself about introducing another Yemen war powers resolution. So far his staff has blocked that request.

It is concerning that it is so hard for a group of prominent leaders to get 15 minutes of time from their own U.S. senator in such a small state. In light of the fact that Sanders’ Washington, D.C. staff has not set up this much-requested meeting, perhaps his Vermont staff can create the needed connection with his concerned constituents on this enormous humanitarian issue.

Time is of the essence. Every 75 seconds another child is being starved to death because of this war. Meet now!

Michelle Menegaz

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Originally published in The Commons issue #641 (Wednesday, December 1, 2021). This story appeared on page C2.

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