3/19: It’s “Filibuster Friday” and there’s lots to do!

Action #1: Ask Sen. Feinstein to support its removal or reform.

UPDATE: The tide is turning. Keep calling and emailing her!

We sent our legislators to Washington DC to make the reforms necessary to prevent another Trump from ever happening. We do not accept that an accidentally created and inherently undemocratic procedural rule will prevent bills from passing that ensure that the basics of democracy, like access to voting, representation, and equal rights for all, especially now that GOP-controlled state governments are on a spree of suppressive, anti-democratic legislation.

In September 2020, Sen. Dianne Feinstein stated: “I think the filibuster serves a purpose. It is not often used, it’s often less used now than when I first came, and I think it’s part of the Senate that differentiates itself.

She is mistaken on the first part, as its use can be objectively quantified, which shows a dramatic rise since her senatorial debut.

However, she is correct in that the filibuster has distinguished the Senate – it has turned it into the strongest bulwark FOR racism in our government. Its use bedeviled civil rights legislation in the 1950’s, including anti-lynching bills; bills prohibiting poll taxes; and bills prohibiting discrimination in employment, housing, and voting.

Please call/send ONE of the messages below to Feinstein EACH DAY about a different bill that is faced with death-by-filibuster in the Senate. Senator Padilla is ALREADY ONBOARD.
If you live in a state with GOP senators, use these scripts as well.

  • Minimal script for H.R.1: I’m calling from [zip code] and I want Sen. [___] to put democracy over a mere procedural rule. America needs S.1, the For the People Act for ballot access, election integrity and ethics in government. To save it from being killed, please do everything you can to end or reform the filibuster.
  • Minimal script for H.R.5: I’m calling from [zip code] and I want Sen. [___] to put the rights of American citizens over a mere procedural rule. Americans are waiting for H.R.5, the Equality Act, which prohibits discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation and gender identity. To save it from being killed in the Senate, please do everything you can to end or reform the filibuster.
  • Minimal script for H.R.8: I’m calling from [zip code] and I want Sen. [___] to put put bipartisan commonsense gun safety legislation over a mere procedural rule. The vast majority of Americas agree on the need for H.R.8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act, which requires background checks for private gun sales. To save it from being killed in the Senate, please do everything you can to end or reform the filibuster.
  • Minimal script for H.R.848: I’m calling from [zip code] and I want Sen. [___] to put legislation to prevent further financial inequality over a mere procedural rule. American workers want HR842, the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, which expands & defends their rights to organize unions. To save it from being killed in the Senate, please do everything you can to end or reform the filibuster.
  • Minimal script for H.R.1280: I’m calling from [zip code] and I want Sen. [___] to put legislation to create necessary police reform over a mere procedural rule. America needs HR1280, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act which holds cops accountable for misconduct in court. To save it from being killed in the Senate, please do everything you can to end or reform the filibuster.
  • Minimal script for H.R.6: I’m calling from [zip code] and I want Sen. [___] to put legislation to create a path to citizenship for DREAMERS and others over a mere procedural rule. H.R.6 – The American Dream and Promise Act recognizes the cultural, economic and social contributions as well as essential work that Dreamers and TPS and DED recipients have added to our country. To save it from being killed in the Senate, please do everything you can to end or reform the filibuster.

Contacts

  • Senator Feinstein: email, DC (202) 224-3841, LA (310) 914-7300, SF (415) 393-0707, SD (619) 231-9712, Fresno (559) 485-7430
  • and Senator Padilla: email, DC (202) 224-3553, LA (310) 231-4494, SAC (916) 448-2787, Fresno (559) 497-5109, SF (415) 981-9369, SD (619) 239-3884 (Updated contacts still in-progress.)
  • Who is my representative/senator?: https://whoismyrepresentative.com

ACTION #2: Petition: Senator Feinstein, Please Vote to End the Filibuster!

Please sign this petition from Indivisible Marin asking Senator Feinstein to commit to voting to swiftly end the filibuster, particularly given the urgency of passing the “For The People Act.” 

The timetable for passage of this bill is extremely time-sensitive given that the independent redistricting commissions it mandates must be formed in time to prevent gerrymandered Congressional district lines for the next decade. It is widely agreed that the “For the People Act” will most certainly not pass if the filibuster is left intact. There does not appear to be a path to compromise on this issue. Senate Democrats must choose to overhaul the filibuster or sacrifice voting rights, along with other crucial legislation that the American people support.

ACTION #3: Phone Bank into Arizona to Urge Sen. Sinema to Change the Filibuster with Arizona Indivisible

Flip the West is phone banking with Arizona Indivisible to urge Senator Krysten Sinema to embrace filibuster reform. President Joe Biden said this week he’d support a change, and we need every Democratic Senator to have his back so we can pass vital voting rights legislation and protect our democracy. Join in by signing up HERE.

But as long as Mitch McConnell can veto popular legislation through the filibuster, that won’t happen. So, we are reaching out with Indivisible Arizona to progressive, solid Democrats in Arizona and urging them to ask Senator Sinema to modify the filibuster. It’s not enough to just elect progressive candidates; we need to pass progressive policy. 

THIS IS NOT A ZOOM CALL – YOU MAY CALL INTO ARIZONA ANY DAY BETWEEN 9:00AM AND 9:00 PM PACIFIC.  Click on the “INSTRUCTIONS” button for the link to the phone bank and the script. (Wait a few seconds until you see the Google document.)

Background

(IndivisibleSF) “Led by Mitch McConnell, Senate Republicans have made it crystal clear they intend to use the filibuster to kill everything passed by Democrats in the House. Only two or three bills can be rescued from filibuster-death through parliamentary maneuvers such as “Reconciliation” – all the rest are doomed to die in the Senate unless the filibuster is ended or reformed. 

For the first time in decades, public support is building to end the filibuster and so too is congressional momentum. Now is the time to maintain a constant drumbeat of constituent-input to our senators on this issue. 

Senator Padilla is already with us, but Feinstein is on the fence. She needs to hear from us day in and day out. This week’s San Francisco Chronicle urged Senator Feinstein to pick a side, and 70 Indivisible chapters (including us!) and allied groups in California signed a letter to Senator Feinstein asking her to commit to voting to end the filibuster.  

This week’s list of the good and necessary bills that have been passed by the House but now face filibuster-death in the Senate are: 

  • HR.1, now S.1: For the People Act, which protects ballot access & election integrity, requires ethics in government, monitors campaign (passed the House 3/3/2021)
  • HR.5: Equality Act, which prohibits discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity (passed the House 2/25/2021)
  • HR.8: Bipartisan Background Checks Act, which increases background check for private gun sales (passed the House 3/11/2021)
  • HR.842: Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO), which expands and defends workers rights to organize unions (passed the House 3/9/2021)
  • HR.1280: George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which holds law enforcement accountable for misconduct in court, improves transparency, and reforms police training and policies (passed the House 3/3/2021)

As the House passes new bills that serve the interests of We the People and they are sent to the Senate for action, they will be added to the Senate Deathwatch list here.

Each day that you can, please pick one bill from that list and – using your own words – send a brief one or two sentence message to your senators linking that bill to ending or reforming the filibuster. 

The filibuster requires a bill to have a super-majority of 60 votes in order to pass — rather than the simple majority that House bills require. 

The filibuster is not — and never was — part of the Constitution. It was created by accident when the Senate revised its rules in 1805 and inadvertently eliminated the procedures for ending debate and forcing a vote on the matter at hand. No one realized the filibuster existed or tried to use for more than 30 years — until southern senators discovered its power to block legislation that might limit slavery. After the Civil War it was used to preserve Jim Crow segregation, deny voting rights to nonwhites, block economic justice and environmental protection measures, and retain the Electoral College. Not only has legislation been blocked, but for more than a century the threat of a filibuster has intimidated progressives into watering-down, or abandoning entirely, social-justice and economic fairness proposals.

Over the years, the filibuster rule has been amended and revised, but it has always remained as an effective weapon that those in power could use to block, delay, or weaken expansion of civil and voting rights, corporate regulation, and environment protection. Where once Senate filibusters were rare, now they are so routine that almost every piece of legislation is subject to the filibuster’s 60-vote supermajority. But through use of the “Nuclear Option” parliamentary maneuver, the filibuster rule can be revoked or altered by a simple majority of senators voting — if the Democratic majority hang together and have the political will and the political courage to stand up and do what’s right. 

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