Rep. Cheney just accused her own party of undermining democracy. It’s up to us to save it with (3) basic actions.

Need an emotional lift today? Listen to this amazing song for National John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Action Day and remember why we do this work! Remember what we’re fighting for and pick up your phone!

Action #1: “S.1 – For the People Act” – the guardrails for democracy we never knew we needed – until a lawless and corrupt man became president.

The GOP is now at war with itself, with Rep. Liz Cheney accusing fellow GOP legislators who follow Trump of perpetrating the Big Lie which is undermining America.

S. 1 -“For the People Act” will protect Americans’ voting rights NATIONWIDE, and it just advanced to the floor, after being deadlocked 9-9 on partisan lines in the Rules Committee. The meeting’s GOP contingent included Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, armed with destructive amendments which failed, along with Senator Ted Cruz, who called the bill “Jim Crow 2.0” and falsely claimed that it would allow undocumented immigrants to vote. (Apparently the GOP no longer worries about their lies being recorded.) However, despite the GOP’s best efforts, S.1 includes reforms that are broadly popular with Americans across the political spectrum.

  • 78% of Americans, including 63% of Republicans, support making early in-person voting available for at least two weeks prior to Election Day. (Pew Research Center, April 2021) The For the People Act would ensure Americans have access to at least 15 days of early voting.
  • 61% of Americans support automatic voter registration, which the For the People Act would implement. (Pew Research Center, April 2021)
  • 83% of likely voters support public disclosure of contributions to organizations involved in elections, which this legislation would require. (Campaign Legal Center, November 2019)

Minimal call/email script for Democratic Senators: I’m calling from [zip code] to thank Sen. [___] for cosponsoring and supporting S.1– For the People Act. Please ask the senator to be prepared to use a targeted filibuster to pass this bill and others related to the basic foundations of our democracy, such as H.R.4 – The John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act and H.R. 51 – Washington DC Admission Act.

Minimal email script for Democratic Senators: Also, please ask [him/her] to include these best practices for more secure and transparent elections in the bill

  • PAPER BALLOTS: Clarify that every voter shall be offered an Hand-Marked Paper Ballots (HMPB) when voting in person.
  • NO BARCODES: Remove barcodes for recording votes, as their information can’t be verified by the voter.
  • POST PUBLICLY: Scanned images of paper ballots shall be preserved as publicly accessible records.
  • AUDIT: Routine independent audits of all federal elections in addition to Risk Limiting Audits (RLAs)
  • STANDARDIZE RECOUNTS: Public 100% hand count of every federal race with margins of 1% or less.

Minimal script for GOP senators: I’m calling from [zip code] to ask Sen. [___] to support S.1– For the People Act. Addressing corruption, the protection of voting rights, and reforming of campaign finance should be bipartisan priorities to make our democracy better for all Americans, regardless of their political affiliation. Now, GOP-controlled states like ours are passing ugly and embarrassing Jim Crow-style laws, and I expect Sen. [___] to find the moral fortitude to stand up against them by voting for S.1.

Contacts

This legislation is co-sponsored by every member of the Senate Democratic Caucus, including both our senators, Feinstein and Padilla. See Feinstein’s statement here.

  • 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 
  • Who is my representative/senator?: https://whoismyrepresentative.com

Action #2: Hold the Jan. 6 taxpayer-funded insurrectionists accountable – Demand an investigation.

Minimal script: I’m calling from [zip code] and I want Rep./Sen.[___] to publicly demand a full investigation of the attack on our Capitol on January 6, 2021, which was driven by the Big Lie that of a stolen election that is still being promoted to this day. A full investigation and accountability for those who orchestrated, participated in, or supported the “Stop The Steal” deadly mob attack on Congress is necessary to ensure the future of our democracy. Republican Congressional leaders have been stalling on establishing an Independent January 6 Commission so we need you to keep up the pressure for a complete investigation.

Longer Email Version: I want Rep./Sen.[___] to publicly demand a full investigation of the attack on our Capitol on January 6, 2021, which was driven by a Big Lie that is still being promoted to this day. A full investigation and accountability for those who orchestrated, participated in, or supported the “Stop The Steal” deadly mob attack on Congress is necessary to ensure the future of our democracy. Republican Congressional leaders have been stalling on establishing an Independent January 6 Commission or a Select Committee, so we need you to keep up the pressure for a complete investigation, either as an Independent commission, or as a select committee..

  • An Independent Commission with no sitting Members of Congress (MOCs) participating would reduce suggestions of bias and ideally reduce polarization. However, sometimes these commissions get less national attention and result in reference reports with less immediate impact.
  • Select Committees with televised hearings would draw more public attention to this critical attack on our government. Because they are based in Congress, Select Committees have led to significant new legislation in the past, but they are also vulnerable to partisan grandstanding. 

For either approach, we demand that Congress do the following: 

  • Give the Commission or Select Committee the powers of subpoenas, civil contempt lawsuits, criminal contempt referrals to the Department of Justice (DOJ), inherent contempt enforcement, and criminal referrals to DOJ.
  • Disallow from the Committees or Commission anyone who voted to overturn election results or signed any amicus court briefs to overturn election results.
  • Declare the theme of the Committees or Commission to be rooting out white nationalist despotism in American government.

Contacts

  • Rep. Julia Brownley: email(CA-26): DC (202) 225-5811, Oxnard (805) 379-1779, T.O. (805) 379-1779
  • or Rep. Salud Carbajal: email.(CA-24): DC (202) 225-3601, SB (805) 730-1710 SLO (805) 546-8348
  • 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
  • Who is my representative/senator?: https://whoismyrepresentative.com

Action #3: Who really believes in “No taxation without representation?” We’ll find out soon! CALL on S.51 – Washington DC Admissions Act!

Full post with resources and background here, including a Manchin explainer.

Minimal script: I’m calling from [zip code] to [thank Sen. [___] for being/ask Sen. [___] to become] a cosponsor of [Sen. – S.51] – Washington, D.C. Admission Act, voting to end this embarrassing example of racial injustice in the very heart of our nation. DC’s Rep. Eleanor Holmes, a former tenured professor of constitutional law, has presented a very clear case that no constitutional amendment is required, despite Sen. Manchin’s reservations..

Additional script for Democratic senators: I’m also requesting that Sen. [___] drop the filibuster for this bill, as there is no legitimate reason to deny full citizenship to 700,000 Americans citizens other than racism and partisanship, which we the people will no longer stand for.

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
  • Who is my representative/senator?: https://whoismyrepresentative.com

Deeper Dive on S.1 – For the People Act.

(This helpful video below, from 2019, is a great conversation with the bill’s author, Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD-3). Short explainer videos from him on this bill here.)

Update: Trump just signed up for mail-in voting in Florida – past the deadline. 

H.R.1/S.1, first introducted in 2019, is a collection of reforms to campaign finance, voting rights, and government ethics for ALL THREE BRANCHES of government, including the presidency and the judiciary. After Trump’s real-time master class in corruption, we need this bill’s stronger guardrails more than ever. “Norms” are no longer good enough. H.R. 1 is an important first step towards building an equitable and functional democracy, along with the D.C. statehood bill and H.R.4 – John Lewis Voting Rights Act, without which we can’t achieve any of our other progressive goals.

This is a VERY LONG BILL, so here are some ways to approach it. 

Here are just a few of the reforms in HR 1: 

  • Requiring automatic and same day voter registration for federal elections
  • Requiring the president, vice president, and candidates for those offices to release their tax returns
  • Forcing the president and vice president to divest from financial holdings that could secretly pose a conflict of interest
  • Provide for early voting and expands mail-in voting…you know, like Trump did.
  • Funding election security upgrades to prevent fraud and foreign interference.
  • Making voting transparent by requiring PAPER ballots!
  • Expanding the disclosure of donors funding dark money groups
  • Creating a small donor matching system for Congressional elections
  • Stop gerrymandering by creating non-partisan redistricting.

Ten reasons for the Senate to pass the For the People Act 

From CREW (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington

Cracking down on government corruption

1. If presidential candidates disclosed their tax returns, the American people would not have to spend years wondering what interests the president could be beholden to or whether the president has paid their fair share. 

  • The For the People Act would require the president, vice president and candidates for those offices from major parties to disclose 10 years of personal tax returns, as well as 10 years of returns for businesses of which they are the sole or principal owner. 

2. If presidents and vice presidents were required to divest from their conflicts of interest before taking the oath of office, the president could not rake in $1.6 billion in side revenue and income and groups like CREW would not have to sue them for violating the Constitution. 

  • The For the People Act would require the president and vice president to divest from personal financial interests that could pose a conflict with their official duties—just like other executive branch employees must. 

3. If Supreme Court Justices were held to a code of ethics, like every other federal judge, then justices may have to recuse themselves from cases involving family members’ former employers. Like Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who failed to recuse from a case before the Supreme Court about Shell.

  • The For the People Act would require a code of ethics for the entire federal judiciary, including Supreme Court justices, which could deal with issues like recusal, financial disclosures, outside employment and partisan political engagement.

4. If cabinet members and senior administration officials’ private flights were restricted, people like Tom Price and Scott Pruitt would not be able to use tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars on travel.

  • The For the People Act would restrict taxpayer-funded travel on private planes by Cabinet members and senior appointees, except in cases where there are no commercial flights available.   

5. If members of the House were banned from serving on corporate boards, we would not have to worry about using their positions to enrich themselves or  to go easy on the companies they profit from. Like former Rep. Chris Collins did with Innate Immunotherapeutics back in 2017.

  • The For the People Act would significantly strengthen conflict of interest rules for members of Congress, including banning House members from serving on the boards of for-profit entities, and would restrict the ability of members of Congress from working to further their own financial interests or that of family members. 

Fighting big money in politics

6. If members of Congress were more accountable to their constituents rather than to their wealthy donors, they would be less likely to get away with inciting an insurrection or going on tropical vacations during a crisis in their state. 

  • The For the People Act would create a voluntary small-donor matching program for House races, as well as piloting  a voucher program in three states, which would enable candidates to run for office without relying on wealthy donors.

7. If political donors’ names were associated with the advertisements and dark money groups  they funded, they could be held accountable for that spending, rather than saying one thing in public and doing another in private—and groups like CREW wouldn’t have to go to court to force that disclosure.

  • The For the People Act would require groups spending more than $10,000 on elections to disclose, with limited exceptions, donors giving more than $10,000, as well as require disclosure of such donations to groups that then transfer the funds to other groups for spending on elections. It would also require outside groups to disclose their top donors in all video, audio or online political ads. 

8. If the FEC actually did its job, groups like CREW would not have to sue the FEC  to make sure there were consequences when dark money groups break the law.

  • The For the People Act would reform the FEC, including lowering the number of commissioners to five to prevent tie votes, streamlining the FEC enforcement process, and allow for more judicial review of the FEC’s decisions.

Getting out the vote and making it count

9. If voter registration and election procedures were  modernized, more Americans would be able to make their voices heard more easily. This would shift power from big money donors and corporations back to the people.

  • The For the People Act would significantly modernize voter registration by requiring states to implement same-day and automatic voter registration for federal elections. It would also require states to offer at least two weeks of early voting and require states to allow any eligible voter to vote by mail in federal elections.

10. If states stopped gerrymandering congressional districts based on race and party, elections would be more about whose policies voters liked, rather than what side of the street they happen to live on.

  • The For the People Act would ban partisan gerrymandering and include stronger protections for racial, ethnic and language minorities in redistricting. It would also require states to use independent redistricting commissions for congressional redistricting, changing it from the current partisan process in many states.

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