In the heart of Washington, D.C. at Union Station near Capitol Hill, Council for a Livable World and the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation held their “Celebrate the Vote for Change: 2009 Inauguration Day Breakfast” on Tuesday, to honor now President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, and the many progressive candidates elected to Congress in November with the help of Council supporters. Over 200 supporters and friends of the organizations, along with board members and staff, gathered to celebrate what will be remembered as one of the most momentous days in American history.
Joining the guests were three new members of Congress whom the Council helped elect: Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon, and Representatives Betsy Markey of Colorado’s 4th district and Jim Himes of Connecticut’s 4th district. Each new member spoke briefly and thanked the Council and Council friends for their early campaign support and expertise on national security issues.
In his remarks, Sen. Merkley acknowledged that the Council’s early endorsement helped to provide a foundation of support that built the strong momentum needed to unseat incumbent Sen. Gordon Smith. He pointed out that he met Council supporters at events across the country who cited the organization’s early endorsement in a difficult primary, something also mentioned by Council Board President Gary Collins, who emceed the event with co-chair Robert K. Musil, when he introduced Merkley.
“The Council for a Livable World was one of the first organizations to endorse Senator Jeff Merkley,” said Collins. “We recognized early on his sensible positions on national security, particularly his strong support on arms control.”
Representative Jim Himes, who won the November 4 election over 21-year incumbent Chris Shays, elicited several rounds of applause from guests as he addressed the crowd. The Council and its supporters look forward to working with Himes in Congress, where they are confident he will be a new leader on national security issues.
“Growing up abroad, I was raised with an awareness of the unique position of the United States in the world – a leader in civil liberties, democratic self-government, and the rule of law, and a beacon of hope and economic opportunity for others around the world,” Himes told the Council when seeking its endorsement during his race.
Though some guests went to the swearing in ceremony following the Members’ remarks, many stayed at the event to watch the swearing in of President Obama and Vice President Biden on large screen televisions, watching history being made together with friends.
The event was made even more poignant for Council supporters, who supported both Obama and Biden in their first races for Senate. Vice President Joe Biden sent a letter to the Council, which was read at the event, thanking the organization for its support of his first Senate campaign in 1972 and affirming the new administration’s support for sensible arms control policies. Read the letter here.
“January 20, 2009, is a day to remember. It marks the beginning of a new era for our country,” said Council and Center Executive Director John Isaacs. “We look forward to working with President Obama, Vice President Biden and the 111th Congress to adopt sensible national security policies and to reduce and eventually eliminate nuclear weapons. We look forward to working with our new leaders to create a more livable world.”