Leaders from 45-million-member social justice coalition call for Senate Action on S. 1; Warn against letting it fall victim to a filibuster

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

For Immediate Release:

Leaders from 45-million-member social justice coalition call
for Senate Action on S. 1;
Warn against letting it fall victim to a filibuster

Jennifer Lamson, Interim Executive Director of the Democracy Initiative:
“Far too many of our citizens think that our democracy is broken. They’re not wrong. In 2021 alone, we have seen the introduction of more than 250 bills in 43 states designed to suppress voter turnout and silence the will of the American people and in particular voters that are Black or Brown. The United States Senate should not be complicit in these actions.

In order to protect our democracy, we need Congress to stop these attempts to disenfranchise voters and subvert the will of the people. The House has acted by passing HR 1, the For the People Act, earlier this month. Now the Senate must act – and not let obstructionist backroom maneuvers like the racist filibuster stand in the way of protecting and revitalizing our democracy.”

Tefere Gebre, Executive Vice President, AFL-CIO and board co-chair of the Democracy Initiative:
“S.1 includes many of the most important reforms necessary to restore the promise of our democracy and the balance of power to working people. Under no circumstances can we allow the filibuster—a procedure rooted in generations of disenfranchisement of citizens of color—to stand in the way of the U.S. government protecting the right of all American citizens to vote in the 21st century.”

Karen Hobert Flynn, President, Common Cause and board co-chair of the Democracy Initiative:
“All Americans deserve to have their voices heard and votes counted, regardless of the size of their wallets or the color of their skin. S. 1, the transformative For the People Act would significantly shift the balance of power and put ‘we the people’ in charge of our democracy. We look forward to overcoming Senator McConnell’s continued blockade and getting the For the People Act across the finish line to President Biden’s desk.”

Derrick Johnson, President and CEO, NAACP and Democracy Initiative board member:
"The US Senate's focus on democracy inclusion through this legislative package is a step in the right direction to advancing racial equity and justice. Our communities are clear that political violence, racially motivated voter suppression and rigging the rules to eliminate community voices are cancers that must be uprooted. We applaud the Senate leadership in moving forward this important policy track alongside the priorities of advancing DC Statehood and strengthening and restoring the Voting Rights Act. These priorities must not fall victim to obstruction and the racist filibuster.”

Erich Pica, President, Friends of the Earth and Democracy Initiative board member:
“For decades, corporations have polluted our politics, suppressed voter voices, and prevented us from critical action to save our planet. Now we face a rapidly closing window to address planetary emergencies such as climate change and ecosystem collapse. The For the People Act may be one of the most important bills Congress takes up to protect not only our democracy but our environment. We call on Senate Majority Leader Schumer to ensure that obstructionist and racist tactics like the filibuster are not used to thwart this critical legislation.”

Gustavo Torres, Executive Director, CASA and Democracy Initiative board member:
“S.1 will help realize the promise of democracy for our Black and Brown communities who have been the target of increasing racist voter suppression. CASA is ready to organize and mobilize our members so that the filibuster does not stand in the way of meeting this moment and finally passing transformative policies that ensure our communities can thrive.”

Virginia Kase, President and CEO, League of Women Voters and Democracy Initiative board member:
“The For the People Act is the most expansive democracy reform legislation we have seen since the Voting Rights Act and the League of Women Voters is proud to support this bill that echoes our mission to empower voters and defend democracy. S. 1 will protect voting rights, eliminate dark money in our elections, restore transparency and accountability in our government, and curb partisan and racial gerrymandering once and for all. Voter suppression at the ballot box and restrictive voting bills in state legislatures continue to threaten our democracy, which is why we need the For the People Act now. The League of Women Voters strongly urge all Senators to embrace this important bill that strengthens our democracy. It is time to pass the For the People Act.” 

Larry Cohen, Chair, Our Revolution and founding board member of the Democracy Initiative:
“This legislation will test the ability of the Senate to discuss, debate, and vote on voting rights and big money in politics. Voters are demanding governance on the core issues confronting our democracy, not a Senate that functions based on unanimous consent like the Senate in ancient Rome.”

Chris Shelton, President, Communication Workers of America and former board member of the Democracy Initiative:
With the introduction of the For the People Act in the U.S. Senate today, we finally have a chance to reform our democracy to make sure the voices of working people are being heard. If we want to have free and fair elections — the most critical component of our democracy — we must pass this bill. Our nation cannot afford to let an antiquated tradition like the filibuster prevent us from taking the most basic actions to protect our elections. If we need to fight for the elimination of the filibuster in order to get the bill passed, CWA members are prepared to do so.”

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The Democracy Initiative is a coalition of 75 organizations with a collective 45 million members fighting for workers, civil rights, social justice and the environment and united in their commitment to realizing the promise of American democracy where all people have an equal seat at the governance table.