Mikulski counters protesters

The Baltimore Sun

WASHINGTON --U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski took to the Senate floor yesterday to respond to anti-war activists who occupied her Capitol Hill office in protest three times in four weeks, saying she will continue to vote for war funding in order to support the troops.

"You can sit-in every single day. You can follow me throughout my Senate career. You can follow me to my grave," Mikulski shouted at the conclusion of her speech on a supplemental funding request pending in Congress.

"I will not vote to, in any way, harm the men and women in the U.S. military, nor will I cut off the support to their families," the Maryland Democrat added. "I'm going to support this [Democratic leader Harry] Reid resolution."

The bill provides money to back President Bush's proposed troop increase but also funds tools such as armor and health care after troops return home.

"All the good things in the bill we absolutely agree with, [but] you don't need to keep funding active combat to keep funding those things," said frustrated protester Gordon Clark in response to Mikulski's speech.

The group of about 20 protesters contend that even though Mikulski voted against the war in 2002, and continues to speak out for troop withdrawal, the only actions that will end their sit-ins are a "no" vote on the supplemental bill, or the inclusion of an amendment to bring the troops home by December this year, Clark said.

"We are on your side," Mikulski said to the "well-intentioned liberal activists," but "I can't vote against" the supplemental funding bill.

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