This week you’re going to be hearing a lot about the 1/6 Commission, which is the independent commission that Democrats in Congress are trying to get set up to investigate what happened during the attempted coup at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th.
Seems like a pretty reasonable thing that should go through with bipartisan support, no?
Not exactly. A few weeks ago, House Republican leadership brought a list of demands to Speaker Pelosi, things that watered down the commission, which they said were essential to earning Republican support for the bill. Democrats, taking the Republicans at their word, accepted the amendments and added them to the bill.
176 of the 211 Republicans (that’s 83%) still voted against the bill anyway.
We don’t want to say “we told you so” but this is exactly what we said was going to happen in the Indivisible Democracy Guide. If you haven’t read it in a while, here’s the relevant section, from the part where we go over lessons learned from our 2008 Trifecta:
Lesson One: Expect the GOP to obstruct, delay, and engage in bad faith BS
What Democrats thought would happen
Democrats thought that if they negotiated with Republicans to pass their agenda, they could reach a deal and pass bipartisan legislation. They thought that compromising with Republicans would increase their chance of success and add legitimacy and permanence to their legislation. They believed by doing so, they would inoculate themselves against the charge that they had rammed their agenda through Congress.
What actually happened
Reaching compromise with Republicans turned out to be a sisyphean task. Democrats spent months going around in circles with Republicans which slowed down their legislative agenda. Democrats repeatedly sacrificed key priorities in the process without any Republican support to show for it. Despite these self-imposed delays by Democrats, Republicans still accused them of ramming through a radical agenda.
Congressional Republicans, led by Mitch McConnell in the Senate, used every tool available to delay and obstruct Obama’s agenda. Some of the common tactics they used included:
- Delay: The GOP engaged in bad-faith negotiations for the sole purpose of delaying legislation;(← Editor’s note: This is what just happened in the House!)
- Obstruction: The GOP used procedural tools to obstruct the process. McConnell was particularly adept at weaponizing the filibuster in the Senate; (← Editor’s note: This could be about to happen in the Senate)
- Bogus arguments: The GOP spread misinformation about provisions in Democratic bills (e.g., “death panels!” and “the deficit!”), and manipulated the press into giving their claims legitimacy. (← Editor’s note: this is like when Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA) called the rioting a “normal tourist event” last week.)
Recalling how Republicans engaged, Speaker Nancy Pelosi put it best:
The Republicans were very clever in what they did. They pretended that they were interested… It was all an illusion.
-SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI
Lesson for today:
Republicans know that the only way that Democrats will succeed is if they move quickly, so Republicans will do everything they can to obstruct and delay. They will try to weaponize President Biden’s understandable desire for unity to tempt him into wasting time and political capital on negotiations that aren’t real. Mitch McConnell has called democracy reforms “socialism” and a “power grab,” and he’s pledged to be the “Grim Reaper” of all progressive legislation. Instead of foolishly looking for Republican votes that will never materialize, Democrats should focus on keeping their caucus together and passing bills with Democratic votes. (← Editor’s note: This is where we are right now!) This focus on caucus unity will be especially critical given the 50/50 split in the Senate, and the need for every single Democrat to vote with the party in order to accomplish anything on our agenda.
Your 5 weekly to-dos
- Call your Senator and tell them to support the For the People Act. For the People is a must-pass bill that strengthens our democratic systems and norms, and we’re gearing up for a fight to get it passed. It’s crucial we make our voices heard now (if you’ve already called, please call again.) If you’re in West Virginia, use this special script just for Sen. Manchin.
- Tell your Senator to Abolish the Filibuster. The filibuster gives Mitch McConnell a cudgel to stop all our legislation in its tracks, even without a majority behind him. Pick your favorite issue (voting rights in the For the People Act or Protecting Workers’ Rights or DC statehood or Unrigging the Supreme Court or the COVID Recovery Package are all good options!) and call your senator to tell them you expect them to pass it -- including abolishing the filibuster to get it done.
- Join us on June 3rd at 8 pm ET/5 pm PT for our monthly National Activist Call. The June call will be a special kick-off for the Deadline for Democracy Recess -- so you'll want to register here to make sure you can learn how to take action during that recess. Our National Activist Calls are for Indivisible group leaders, group members and other activists.
- Call your Senators & Members of Congress and tell them to support a broad and inclusive recovery package.
- Tell your Senator to vote for D.C. statehood. Statehood for Washington D.C. is a major civil rights issue, and the Senate has the power to end taxation without representation for nearly 700,000 people. There will likely be some speeches in the Senate about this tomorrow (Tuesday, time is still TBD), so that would be a great day to call your Senators and tell them you expect them to stand up for the residents of D.C.
P.S. We rely on your support to keep call pages up and running, fund ads to get the word out, and continue all the work we’re doing this year. If you’re able, click here to donate to help fund our work.
This Week on the Hill
Beyond the January 6th Commission (which we talked about above), the main thing we’re watching on the Hill this week is the release of President Biden’s 2022 budget, which we expect on Friday. There will be lots of good analysis of the budget and we’ll particularly be watching DefundHate and People>Pentagon.
Once President Biden releases his budget, it kicks off a months-long appropriations process (see our resource here), but we’re also expecting this to be a turning point in the recovery negotiations. Committees were waiting for Biden’s budget to move forward the budget resolution they will use to pass recovery reconciliation (you can read about the full process in our resource here). The big bill that will eventually pass as part of reconciliation is our chance to get our main recovery priorities signed into law. As a reminder, we’re working with the Congressional Progressive Caucus in advocating six main priorities in the recovery package:
- A Pathway to Citizenship
- Dramatically Lower Drug Prices, Using the Savings to Pay for Public Health Expansion
- Investments in Climate
- Investments in the Care Economy
- Investments in Housing
- Increase the Overall Size of Recovery
Read our full resource on the recovery priorities here, then call your Senators and Member of Congress and tell them to pass a real recovery bill.
Building Inclusive Groups
Tuesday, June 8th at 8pm ET / 5pm PT
Thursday, June 10th at 3pm ET / 12pm PT
The January 6 insurrection was more than an attack on our capitol, and our democracy. It was an opening salvo of increased attacks on Black and Brown people by the Republican Party. Now more than ever, it is critical that Indivisible Groups build strong inclusive groups that reflect the mosaic of our country. In this webinar, we’ll be covering what it means to organize from an anti-racist perspective; the impact of white privilege and white supremacy in team dynamics, and how to co-create an inclusive group.
Unpacking Deep Canvassing Training series w/ Indivisible’s Rural Caucus
Every Wednesday in June starting at 8pm ET / PT
Join us for a training series on the listening, curiosity, conversation, and practical skills needed to successfully have deep canvassing conversations to move folks toward progressive values and action in your community. This is a 4-part series of sessions that build on each other -- please join us for all four if you can, but drop-ins are also welcome!
IndivisiWin of the Week
Two tweets for the price of one this week -- Inwood Indivisible in northern Manhattan and a coalition of groups including Northwest Bronx Indivisible a few miles away took two different approaches to engaging with Senator Schumer this month, one on Zoom and one in the streets. We love seeing how Indivisibles are both working closely with elected officials like Sen. Schumer, and also continuing to pressure them from the outside!
What are you thinking about this week? We always want to hear from you -- feel free to reply to this email or reach out on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!