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Maryland to Congress: No Surge

As Congress debates President Bush's plan for a troop buildup in Iraq, Democrats in the Maryland legislature are weighing in with a resounding no.

A one-page letter signed by 83 lawmakers and sent yesterday to the delegation on Capitol Hill starts: "The people of Maryland have not been shielded from the horrors taking place in Iraq."

"When will it end?" the passionate letter continues, urging the delegation of eight Democrats and two Republicans to oppose the president's proposed surge of 20,000 troops. "It is a scandal to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on prolonging a reckless and futile war."

State legislatures don't traditionally dip their toes into matters of foreign policy. But on the Iraq war, the General Assembly has a lot of company: Twelve other states, including California, Illinois, New Jersey and New Mexico, have gone even further this year, approving formal resolutions of opposition.

"People have said, 'Should the state legislatures be weighing in on this?'."said freshman Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery), who wrote the letter with Sen. Paul G. Pinsky (D-Prince George's). "The answer is yes." At a news conference yesterday, a dozen other Democrats expressed their distaste for a troop buildup, saying their constituents have spoken.

Pinsky said he approached several Republicans to sign the letter but was rebuffed. He opted for a letter instead of a resolution so that it would arrive in time for this week's congressional debate. When the country went to war four years ago, he was one of 11 Democrats to sign a letter opposing the invasion, prompting an emotional debate on the Senate floor. "It got pretty ugly," Pinsky recalled.

Lisa Rein

By Phyllis Jordan  |  February 14, 2007; 6:15 AM ET
Categories:  General Assembly  
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