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Mayors In Baltimore Pass Resolution On War Money

BALTIMORE (AP) --  Mayors from across the United States passed a resolution Monday urging Congress to quickly end wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and spend the money on domestic priorities.

The resolution, passed during the last day of annual conference of mayors, says the $126 billion spent each year on the wars should be used at home to create jobs, rebuild infrastructure, develop sustainable energy and provide for other needs.

Organizers said the last time the mayors passed a resolution calling for the end to a military engagement was during the Vietnam War.

Mayors attending the conference also called on Congress to do more to stimulate the economy, releasing a study of the economy of metro areas nationwide.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the incoming president of the mayors conference, noted bipartisan support for the resolution and didn't limit criticism of Congress to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"When the Democrats are saying that they won't cut entitlement programs that clearly are not sustainable going into the future, and I'm talking about Social Security and Medicare, and Republicans are saying they won't cut defense spending, let me explain what is left," Villaraigosa said. "Everything important to our cities. That's investment in education, that's investment in public health. That's investment in transportation."

The Los Angeles mayor said the mayors understand cutting bad programs, but they don't understand not investing in American workers and cities.

"We know the opportunities and solutions come from cities," Mesa, Ariz., Mayor Scott Smith said.

Villaraigosa noted the report said metro economies account for 89 percent of the nation's gross domestic product and 94 percent of new jobs.

The study of 363 metropolitan areas found unemployment was expected remain at double-digit levels in 75 of those areas through December. And 48 are not expected to return to peak employment until after 2020.

However, the report also found growth in the nation's gross domestic product was expected to reach 3.5 percent in the second half of 2011 and that by 2014 over half of metro areas will have returned to their previous peak employment levels.

The forecasts were based on the assumption that Congress will extend the debt ceiling.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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