Federal Action Alert – Sept. 24, 2021

Produced by Democrats of the Red Rocks and Coconino County Democratic Party

THIS WEEK’S ALERTS:   Push the compromise Freedom to Vote Act finally supported by Sen. Manchin, and the Native American Voting Rights Act; pull out the stops on the social and climate provisions in the Reconciliation Bill; use the need to raise the federal debt ceiling as another reason to pressure Senator Sinema to support elimination of the filibuster

SUPPORT THE COMPROMISE “FREEDOM TO VOTE ACT” & AND THE NATIVE AMERICAN VOTING RIGHTS ACT, AND MODIFY FILIBUSTER TO ENSURE PASSAGE

After months of negotiations Senate Democrats have come up with a scaled back “For the People Act” to protect voting rights bringing along Senator Manchin.  It is sponsored by Senators Klobuchar, Manchin, Kaine, Warnock and others.  The bill contains a raft of measures designed to support access to the ballot, including automatic voter registration and online registration; designating Election Day as a federal holiday; same-day registration; at least 15 days of early voting; uniform standards for voting by mail and for drop boxes; rules for voter-roll purges; requirements for counting provisional ballots in whatever precinct they are cast; voter-ID standards; the enfranchisement of former nonviolent felons after they have served their time; and new rules to ensure access for voters with disabilities.  While it doesn’t require independent commissions on redistricting, it attempts to set up criteria that are enforceable in court.

      After a meeting with Sen. Manchin, Senate Minority Leader McConnell stated the scaled back bill will not have a single Republican supporter.  This is a must pass for Democrats and has the potential to change Senators Manchin and Sinema’s reluctance to modify the filibuster – at least as to voting protections.  

     This week also saw the introduction of the Native American Voting Rights Act, aimed specifically at ensuring fair access to the ballot for citizens of tribal nations (you can read more about this bill at Native American Voting Rights Act (NAVRA) – Native American Voting Rights (narf.org) ). S 2702 in the Senate, HR 5008 in the House call for provisions that would address key challenges for Native American voters (e.g., allowing tribes to designate buildings to serve as physical addresses for those reservation residents lacking a home address, requiring acceptance of tribal ID if voter identification is required, mandating access to registration and voting locations in reasonable distance of tribal residents). Many civil rights and justice organizations have endorsed this bill as a complement to other voting rights legislation.   

SAMPLE VOICE MAIL FOR SENATORS:  

I’m a lifelong Democrat living and voting in XXXXX, Arizona.  I’m am very happy that Senators Manchin and Klobuchar have co-sponsored voter protection legislation in the “Freedom to Vote Act.”    Now that we finally have 50 senators on board it MUST be passed to help preserve American democracy.  With Minority Leader McConnell promising not a single Republican senator’s vote it will be time to look at modifying the filibuster in terms of voter protection legislation.  While I appreciate the bi-partisan spirit, if you can’t find 10 Republicans to come along, its time to consider other options. This bill is just too important to our democracy to let slip away under archaic procedural rules. I also believe our Native American neighbors in Arizona deserve improved access to the ballot! The provisions of the recently proposed Native American Voting Rights Act make a lot of sense to me. Please do all you can to make sure the Freedom to Vote Act includes these provisions, or that the Native American Voting Rights Act passes separately.”  

FOR BOTH SENATORS AND REP. O’HALLERAN: SUPPORT AMBITIOUS ACTION ON SOCIAL PROGRAMS WITH FULL FUNDING IN THE BUDGET RECONCILIATION PROPOSAL:  Dems must deliver major provisions of President Biden’s infrastructure plan, far beyond the minimal “hard infrastructure” included in the bipartisan package. The broader view of infrastructure includes expansion of the “care economy” (support for child care and home care, paid family leave); expansion of Medicare coverage; investments in fair and affordable housing; creation of clear pathways to citizenship for immigrants; and substantial progress toward a clean energy future. 7/10 Americans support these programs, our Senators and representatives should also. No cutting back on new legislation to provide paid family and medical leave, establish a universal Pre-K program, expand Medicare coverage for seniors to include dental, vision, and hearing coverage, lower health care costs by allowing Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices, provide tax breaks for clean energy, and expand the Child Tax Credit for most families with children.  Although this is called a $3.5 trillion package this is really a $0 cost package to the vast majority of us as the super rich and large corporations would finally pay their fair share and fund the plan.  It’s now or never over the next couple of weeks so let’s push hard! 

Sample text or message for both Senators and Rep. O’Halleran:  “My name is XXXX, and I’m a Democrat living and voting in XXXXX.    As a Democrat I’m imploring you to support and fully fund ambitious social/climate programs in the social infrastructure proposal at the same time the bipartisan infrastructure bill is passed.  7 of 10 Americans support the social infrastructure plan and you should too.  I am especially urging you to support the most expansive proposals on [see below – choose one of these:  climate, care economy, housing, Medicare and drug prices].  The bipartisan infrastructure bill, focused on physical infrastructure investments, is fine as a start but by itself will not build the recovery we need! We can pay for a true and fair recovery for all Americans entirely paid for with a repeal of the Trump tax cuts that unfairly enriched the super-rich and corporations.”

Climate: creation of clean energy jobs and employment, including a Civilian Climate Corps; an ambitious Clean Energy Standard and use of both incentives and penalties to speed up the move away from fossil fuels to true renewables; and ensuring that 40 % of these climate investments go to historically disadvantaged communities.

Care economy: affordable childcare benefits for all, paid family and medical leave, improved quality of and access to home and community-based care for seniors and those with disabilities.

Housing: expanded housing choice vouchers, expanded investment in construction and upgrades of public housing facilities.

Healthcare: a lowered age for eligibility for Medicare, expansion of Medicare to cover vision, dental, and hearing, ability for Medicare to negotiate prices for prescription drugs [this provision would go far in saving the federal government dollars to be used in paying for the expansion of coverage]

Sen. Sinema:  Call (202) 224-4521 (DC) or (602) 598-7327.  Email via her website at “http://www.sinema.senate.gov”  Tag the Senator at @senatorsinema . Senator Sinema sits on the Commerce Science and Transportation Committee (drug prices, Medicare), and on Banking Housing and Urban Affairs (housing proposals).

Sen. Mark Kelley: Call (202) 224-2235 (DC),  Email via his website at http://www.kelly.senate.gov Tag the Senator at @senmarkkelly . Senator Kelly sits on the Environment and Public Works Committee and the Committee on Aging.

Rep. O’Halleran: Call (202) 225-3361 or send an email via his website at http://www.ohalleran.house.gov

SENATE NEEDS TO RAISE THE DEBT CEILING, AND SINEMA NEEDS TO ASSIST BY ABANDONING HER SUPPORT FOR THE FILIBUSTER

The Treasury Department has warned that the US will exceed its current debt capacity in mid-October; the House of Representatives passed a bill this past week to extend the debt ceiling and to permit continued federal government operation past the end of this month. Numerous experts on federal finance and the economy, including most recent US Secretaries of the Treasury (excluding Trump’s), warn that permitting the US to “fall off the fiscal cliff” and to default on its debt would cause lasting harm to the nation’s economic interests, similar to the impact of 2011’s gridlock on the debt ceiling. And a shutdown of the government would be devastating in the midst of the current pandemic and crisis support for American families, individuals, and small businesses. Senate Leader McConnell has pledged to use the filibuster to prevent the Senate from voting on the bill passed by the House; this would force the Democrats to fold the debt ceiling increase into the overall reconciliation bill (see above) and allow the GOP to claim they are protecting fiscal responsibility. Senator Sinema has said she supports the House bill but her continued support for the filibuster simply enables McConnell’s strategy.

SAMPLE SCRIPT FOR SENATOR SINEMA:

     “My name is XXXX and I’m a voter and constituent in YYY, Arizona. I’m very concerned about the looming deadline for increase in the debt ceiling and an extension of the federal government’s ability to continue functioning. Right now, in the midst of the pandemic and a fragile economic recovery, is no time for these threats of government shutdowns or default on debt! Raising the debt ceiling, and keeping the government functioning past the end of this month, is a normal and responsible approach – supported by current and former Treasury secretaries, among many others. I know you have expressed support for the bill passed last week by the House, and I appreciate that support. But that support is meaningless if Senate Leader McConnell uses the threat of filibuster to prevent a Senate vote on this bill. This is yet another reason I am urging you to help eliminate or modify the filibuster, so that the Senate can actually function. Your leadership would be so influential – please help restore the Senate’s functionality by eliminating the filibuster and then helping to raise the debt ceiling in a timely way.”  
Sen. Sinema:  Call (202) 224-4521 (DC) or (602) 598-7327.  Email via her website at “http://www.sinema.senate.gov”  Tag the Senator at @senatorsinema .

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