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Many progressives and anti-war activists were dismayed recently when Joe Sestak joined forces with Rahm Emanuel, Steny Hoyer and 83 other Democrats and all but 2 Republicans to pass the Emergency Supplemental Funding Bill last week. That vote, obviously, raises the question: does he belong on the Blue America list?

Unlike Chris Carney, who hid behind his staff and shameful Republican talking points when we asked him about deceptive votes, Joe stepped forward immediately and asked to talk to our community. He isn't apologizing; he wants to engage in a discussion about why he voted the way he did and how that fits into his ideas for disengaging from Iraq. Tomorrow's session should be… interesting.

Last year Blue America endorsed Admiral Joe Sestak for Congress and he beat crooked Republican Curt Weldon, an incumbent of two decades, in Pennsylvania's 7th CD, 56-44%. One month before the election Blue America hosted Joe at Firedoglake for a q&a and we raised $13,500 for him from 815 members of our community. Congressman Sestak will be back to tell us what he's been up to since we last talked with him this Saturday at noon (EST).

Progressive Punch rates every single member of Congress based on how they vote. If someone was progressive on every roll call they would get 100 points. If someone was reactionary on every roll call they would get 0 points. The lowest score is 0.39 for Doug Lamborn the extreme right wing kook in Colorado's 5th CD who beat Blue America Fighting Dem Jay Fawcett last year, 59-41%. The best score is 99.21 and that belongs to Brooklyn freshman Yvette Clarke. Here are the voting scores for the 2 dozen most progressive freshmen in Congress:

* Yvette Clarke (D-NY) 99.21
* Hank Johnson (D-GA) 98.83
* Keith Ellison (D-MN) 98.82
* Mazie Hirono (D-HI) 98.03
* Peter Welch (D-VT) 97.25
* David Loebsack (D-IA) 96.86
* Steve Cohen (D-TN) 96.48
* John Sarbanes (D-MD) 96.48
* Michael Arcuri (D-NY) 96.09
* Betty Sutton (D-OH) 96.06
* Paul Hodes (D-NH) 95.70
* Kathy Castor (D-FL) 95.29
* Joe Courtney (D-CT) 94.92
* Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH) 94.92
* Albio Sires (D-NJ) 94.72
* Bruce Braley (D-IA) 94.53
* Phil Hare (D-IL) 94.53
* Steve Kagen (D-WI) 94.53
* Chris Murphy (D-CT) 94.51
* John Yarmuth (D-KY) 94.51
* John Hall (D-NY) 94.07
* Joe Sestak (D-PA) 93.75
* Jerry McNerney (D-CA) 92.58
* Tim Walz (D-MN) 92.58

No one in Congress has a 100. The highest scores of any non-freshmen belong to Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) at 97.92, and 3 congresswomen in the 96 range, Barbara Lee (D-CA), Janice Schakowsky (D-IL), and Linda Sanchez (D-CA). For sake of comparison, Nancy Pelosi has a 93.58, Maxine Waters has a 93.26, Barney Frank has a 92.95, Henry Waxman has a 91.94. Gene Taylor (the Mississippi Democrat who votes most frequently with the Republicans) has a 49.71 and the Republican who votes most frequently with the Democrats, Chris Shays has a 31.09. Mean Jean Schmidt has a 3.58 and Marilyn Musgrave has a 2.53.

The first piece of legislation the admiral-turned-congressman, by then a member of the House Armed Services Committee, wrote and introduced when he got to Washington was H.R. 960 (co-sponsored by fellow freshmen Carol Shea-Porter and Steve Cohen), “Enhancing America's Security through Redeployment from Iraq Act.” It mandates the end of funding for the occupation of Iraq after December 31, 2007. When I spoke to Joe on the phone yesterday, in preparation for our live blog session tomorrow he emphasized to me his adherence– backed by a consistent voting record– to a "date certain" end to the occupation of Iraq.

Many progressives and anti-war activists were dismayed when Rep. Sestak joined forces with Rahm Emanuel, Steny Hoyer and 83 other Democrats and all but 2 Republicans to pass the Emergency Supplemental Funding Bill last week. That vote, obviously, raises the question: does he belong on the Blue America list?

Unlike Chris Carney, who hid behind his staff and shameful Republican talking points when we asked him about deceptive votes, Joe stepped forward immediately and asked to talk to our community. He isn't apologizing; he wants to engage in a discussion about why he voted the way he did and how that fits into his ideas for disengaging from Iraq. Tomorrow's session should be… interesting.

If you'd like to prepare, here is Joe Sestak's entire congressional record and here are the relevant parts of a letter he sent to an antiwar constituent complaining about his vote for the Supplemental:

My position on the Iraq War has been consistent since I placed my name into consideration to become your Congressman. I have always demanded a withdrawal of American combat troops from Iraq by the end of 2007, which was the goal of the first piece of legislation I sponsored. I voted for the first emergency supplemental bill (HR 1591) that included a timetable for withdrawal. President Bush subsequently vetoed that bill. However, in light of my thirty-one years of military experience and firsthand knowledge of military operations and logistics, I must heed our collective obligation to support the American and coalition personnel (military and civilian) who are bravely serving in harms way. They are our sons and daughters, our sisters and brothers, our neighbors and friends. They deserve our full support as long as they serve. Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia, a Vietnam veteran and a noted opponent of President Bush’s war policy, as well as the father of a soldier currently serving in Iraq, voted in favor of the supplemental funding bill. I agree with Sen. Webb and many other administration critics that we must pursue a sound strategy leading up to what will be a very difficult troop withdrawal; however, I will not sacrifice our military and civilian personnel to make a political point.

I am aware that my vote on this important issue goes against the sentiments of some of my most ardent supporters. You must understand my decision in the context of the life and death struggle our forces and civilians are currently facing in Iraq and Afghanistan. I have enclosed an editorial that I have written to explain my position more fully, and I will continue to work to end our involvement in Iraq’s civil war.

And here's the May 27th OpEd Joe wrote for the local newspapers in his district, in the hope of letting his constituents know why he voted the way he did:

Last week, Congress voted on an emergency supplemental bill for Iraq and Afghanistan. It was not what I wanted– it did not contain a date certain for redeployment that I had previously voted for and President Bush had vetoed. But it provided the resources our troops needed to be safe until September. I could not deprive the men and women of our armed forces those funds required for their security until they redeploy.

I saw combat in Afghanistan and Iraq. The first was a just war; the second, a tragic misadventure. And since the day I announced for Congress, I have never deviated from what I said that day: a date certain to redeploy from Iraq within a year is the only viable strategy that will change the incentives for the political leaders of Iraq– along with Iran's and Syria's– to change their behavior and work for stability and an unfailed Iraqi state.

But I've run the Navy's $67 billion annual warfare program, and I know that annual defense money is only so fungible between defense funding accounts, and the account called "operations" will run out in July. The practical result is an America unable to then provide its servicemen and women what they need to defend themselves in Iraq or Afghanistan. I also know that redeploying out of an area of conflict is the most challenging of military operations, and to do it safely for our 140,000 military personnel– and the thousands of US civilians in Iraq– will take at least six months.

After 31 years of military service, I will never place at risk the lives of those America has sent overseas to fight for us. They are our sons and daughters, whose safety is our paramount concern. I therefore voted to ensure they had the means for their security, while we continue to work to end this conflict by a date certain. I will never vote to have our service members' safety be caught between Congress and a President who we might hope will blink. "Hope" is not a strategy.

This war is not President Bush's war; it is America's war, true whenever its sons and daughters are fighting overseas. I therefore have great faith that Americans across the political spectrum will increasingly come together after this vote and work for an end date of what can no longer be an open ended commitment in Iraq– not just for our service members' security, but for America's.

I have worked, and will continue to work, in Congress for a date certain to redeploy within the year. I have never deviated from this strategy, not even in this vote to ensure our sons and daughters are safe until then. This is because an established end date where the United States will no longer be in Iraq is the only remaining U.S. leverage to force the Iraqis to assume responsibility for their nation, and make the difficult political compromises that will stop the civil war we are currently refereeing.

There is no military solution to this civil war… it will take the reality that we will no longer be there to contain the worst of instability in order for Iran and Syria to stop their destructive efforts, fearful that instability will then flow over their borders. And it is this reality of our redeployment that will force the Iraqis to stop pursuing their personal fiefdoms in their government ministries while we provide them political and military cover, rather than their working for political solutions.

I know; when Senator Hagel and I spoke with Prime Minister Maliki and other Shia and Kurd leaders, we heard them disparage the proposed re-Baathification legislation to permit the Sunnis to be a more viable part of the government– just after our Ambassador, Ryan Crocker, and General Petraeus stated it was of the utmost importance. Perhaps of even greater importance, redeployment changes Iran's and Syria's incentives to work toward stability: they do not want to face the flow of 4 million refugees dislocated in Iraq coming across their borders, or to be in a proxy war in Iraq between what are now two "allied" nations, one primarily Sunni (Syria) and the other Shia (Iran).

There is another strategy to bring about a stable Iraq, one where we will not be in Iraq and where we can begin to address our other security concerns that have been negatively impacted abroad and at home by our involvement in Iraq, beginning in Afghanistan. It is a date certain which begins a true exit strategy so we can begin to apply our resources elsewhere in the world: where terrorists are and where emerging nations, such as in the Western Pacific, have growing political and economic interests, and therefore influence, that may challenge ours. And it begins to repair our army at home, where not one unit is of sufficient readiness to deploy elsewhere in the world if a conflict were to erupt.

This is why I remain committed to working on a date certain for redeployment and why I submitted legislation within weeks of being sworn-in that called for a date certain by the end of this year, with no funding thereafter for U.S. forces within Iraq- but it must be a redeployment where we ensure that our troops can get home safely. Therefore, my vote had to do with their safety and we must now work to have the next vote be about America's security.

It seems to me that he is saying that Bush, by vetoing the appropriations bill that Congress passed (because it included a timetable for withdrawal) is threatening to put our military personnel in grave danger. To me that says "immediate impeachment" and a treason trial. Like I said, we can get into all this with Congressman Sestak tomorrow. And, by the way, he's also been leading the battle to fix No Child Left Behind and has a number of other issues to talk about.