A good start

Rep. Balint has rightly called for a cessation of hostilities. Now she can force a vote on U.S. participation in the war by introducing a Gaza War Powers Resolution.

BRATTLEBORO — Rep. Becca Balint can help stop genocide in Israel and Palestine by forcing a vote on U.S. military participation in the war: She can introduce a Gaza War Powers Resolution.

Hamas's Oct. 7 attack on Israel represented the country's deadliest in decades and killed more Jewish people than in any day since the Holocaust.

In response, the Israeli defense minister ordered a "complete siege," cutting Gaza off from electricity, fuel, food, and water. Israel is pummeling Gaza, striking mosques, churches, homes, and hospitals.

I condemn the Hamas attacks on Israeli civilians and its taking of hostages - and I also condemn the Israeli military's massive assault on the Palestinian people. The Israeli military's response has been disproportionate to Hamas' attacks, but both Israel and Hamas are committing war crimes.

Genocide Watch has issued a genocide emergency alert for Israel and Gaza. The Center for Constitutional Rights reported last week that U.S. participation in the war rises "to the level of complicity in genocide." Further escalation is broadening the destruction, risking many more people's lives. Members of Congress like Rep. Balint should introduce a War Powers Resolution before it is too late.

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Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution says that Congress, not the president, has the power to decide to go to war. However, the U.S. appears to be preparing to participate, if not already participating, in the war, providing weapons, military support and advice, and diplomatic cover.

The U.S. has deployed thousands of military personnel to the region. Congress should have a say in this; and as our sole U.S. representative, it is up to Becca Balint to introduce a Gaza War Powers Resolution in the House.

From years of organizing to stop U.S. participation in the Saudi-led war on Yemen, I have seen both how easily the U.S. can enter a war and how difficult it is to exit.

My organization, Action Corps, helped lead the effort that resulted in the 2019 passage of the bipartisan Yemen War Powers Resolution, which reclaimed Congress's constitutional authority over war - but it took four years after the U.S. began participating in the war to achieve that, and the blockade of Yemen continues. The best time to stop a war is before it starts.

Rep. Balint understands the oppression of Palestinians. In 2022, before joining Congress, she critiqued the "mechanisms of occupation - home demolitions, unjust detentions, displacement of families through illegal settlement expansions, ongoing bombings of Gaza, the strangling blockade of Gaza and harassment at checkpoints." During her campaign, she spoke about the need to stand up to authoritarianism and genocidal behavior.

The State Department official in charge of ensuring the U.S. isn't participating in war crimes in Gaza just resigned to protest the fact he's not being allowed to do his job. More than 400 congressional staff members have written a letter to their bosses calling on them to support a cease-fire.

A War Powers Resolution is privileged, meaning that any member of the House can bring it to the floor for a vote. Rep. Balint can lead the charge.

Hundreds of organizations, including Jewish, Muslim, Quaker, Catholic, and humanitarian groups, and many countries, are calling for an immediate cease-fire. The Biden administration stood alone in the United Nations Security Council in vetoing a resolution for a cease-fire. The United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator to the Occupied Palestinian Territory appealed to all parties to the conflict, and to member states with influence, to urgently agree to a humanitarian cease-fire.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) recently wrote, "The bombs and missiles from both sides must end." And Sen. Peter Welch has strongly opposed a ground invasion.

Rep. Balint has rightly called for a cessation of hostilities. Now she can force a vote on U.S. participation in the war by introducing a Gaza War Powers Resolution.

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As a major supplier of weapons and war support to Israel, the U.S. has a special responsibility to help protect lives and avoid complicity in war crimes in Gaza.

Our House representative from Vermont should prioritize the preservation of human life above all else. Hundreds, if not thousands, of Vermonters have rallied for Rep. Balint to join the call for an immediate cease-fire.

She has already taken important steps toward this end. With rapid escalations, the possibility of another endless war, and genocide warnings, her introduction of a Gaza War Powers Resolution can help advance her call for a cessation of hostilities, enforce the U.S. Constitution, and save countless lives.

Isaac Evans-Frantz is the executive director of Action Corps, a nonpartisan organization with volunteers in 32 states, that campaigns for U.S. policies to save lives around the world.

This Voices Viewpoint was submitted to The Commons.

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