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Kucinich Seeks to Strip Oil Law Benchmark from Supplemental

Almost all of the progressive criticism so far of the supplemental appropriation for the war being considered by the House could be organized under the heading, "It doesn't go far enough." The Murtha readiness criteria allow for a waiver, the deadline for withdrawing troops is too long, funding is not cut off after the deadline, and so on.

But Representative Dennis Kucinich is asking for something to be removed from the supplemental - the "benchmark" that requires the Iraqi government to pass a new oil law.

As Antonia Juhasz pointed out in an op-ed yesterday in the New York Times, the Bush Administration has touted the positive aspect of the draft Iraq oil law currently before Iraq's parliament: that it seeks to share oil revenues fairly among Iraq's regions and ethnic groups.

But until recently there has been very little discussion in the U.S. of what the draft oil law means for the relationship of foreign companies to Iraq's oil reserves. Critics, including Iraqi labor unions, charge that the law will privatize Iraq's oil reserves into the hands of multinational oil companies.

In a letter to fellow Members of Congress, Representative Kucinich writes:

The primary function of the oil law currently being considered by the Iraqi government will be to open Iraqi oil fields to private foreign companies, depriving the Iraqi people of a necessary source of national income.

Kucinich has announced his intention to offer an amendment on the floor to strip out the oil law benchmark from the supplemental. It's quite plausible that with a little public attention and lobbying, this amendment could pass. It also offers an opportunity for labor unions, anti-privatization and global justice activists to jump into the Congressional debate.

Of course, it's up to the Iraqis to decide what kind of system they want to have for controlling their oil wealth. The point is that they are currently being pressed to accept an IMF regime designed by foreign consultants for the benefit of multinational companies while they are under foreign military occupation. Thus, you don't have to be "anti-privatization" or even anti-war to support the Kucinich amendment. You just have to be pro-democracy.

Presumably, you are already calling your Representative about the supplemental - asking him or her to restore the provision barring an attack on Iran without Congressional authorization, for example. (The Appropriations Committee is scheduled to consider the bill tomorrow morning.) So it's easy to add this in: "Please support the Kucinich amendment to remove the Iraqi oil law benchmark from the supplemental."

The Congressional switchboard is 202-225-3121.

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