CLIFTON PARK: U.S. Rep defends war vote

U.S. Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-Hudson, drew fire in May in a town hall meeting for her support of continued funding for the Iraq war.

Eighty-five other Democrats in the U.S. House joined Gillibrand in voting on Thursday, May 24, for the bill, which extended funding of the Iraq War until September. The other 140 Democrats voted against it.

Gillibrand broke ranks with local Democrats on the vote as well. Reps. John Hall, D-Dover Plains, and Maurice Hinchey, D-Hurley, both voted against the bill, as did U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, also a Democrat.

Gillibrand was the target of a GOP radio ad in which she was compared unfavorably to U.S Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-California, despite the fact that Pelosi voted opposite Gillibrand on the war funding bill.

Gillibrand held a town hall forum on Tuesday, May 29, at Gowana Middle School in Clifton Park. The topic of the forum was the re-authorization of No Child Left Behind later this year, but some in attendance wanted to talk about the war instead.

Gillibrand defended her vote to the dozens of citizens at the forum.

The reason why I voted for that bill was not because I support the war, which I don't, but because I've seen this president send our troops into battle without body armor, without the training they need, and without the equipment they need, Gillibrand said. "I don't trust the administration to not put the entire burden on these troops."

Peter Looker, a member of the Saratoga Peace Alliance, attended the forum wearing a shirt that read, "Either war is obsolete or men are."

"I'm here to remind her that we need to do something," Looker said. "The majority of people in this district are strongly against this war. This war is illegal, and it should be stopped."

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