The path forward to pass the For The People Act

The following is a letter from Common Cause President Karen Hobert Flynn to Common Cause members and activists, and all Americans who care about building a strong, inclusive democracy, about our path forward to pass the For the People Act.

Last Sunday, Senator Joe Manchin wrote an op-ed expressing concerns about the For the People Act. I believe this is the beginning, and not the end, of our urgently important efforts.

First, let me remind you that failure is not an option. The Trump wing of the GOP has already made it clear that their 2022 strategy runs through suppressing voters (targeting Black and brown voters especially), rigging legislative districts, and refusing to accept the outcome of any elections they lose.

The For the People Act (HR 1/S 1) is the only comprehensive, federal solution to shut this strategy down. And if we don’t pass it now — alongside the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act — we might not get another chance for these bold voting rights, anti-gerrymandering, and pro-transparency solutions.

We know Sen. Manchin has changed his mind before in situations like this. But, he’ll only do that this time if he feels pressure not just from activists, but from leaders in his party like President Biden, Vice President Harris, and his Senate colleagues.

Every elected leader must make clear where they stand, because history will remember who took bold action — and who sat by in silence — when our democracy was on the line.

Remember, the 117th Congress and the Biden administration were ushered in through record numbers of Americans braving a pandemic to do their civic duty — voting, volunteering, helping their community participate, and doing their part to make our democracy work.

President Biden himself said this month he would “fight like heck with every tool” at his disposal for the bill’s passage.

Now is the time. We’ve already moved the For the People Act further than it’s ever been — this bill is a top priority, and it will soon come to the Senate floor for the first time ever. We need to keep pushing our leaders to use their power to protect our democracy.

That means calling on President Joe Biden to help lead this fight. It means leaders publicly demanding Joe Manchin get on board. And, it means jettisoning the anti-democracy Jim Crow relic known as the filibuster.

Members of Congress who don’t do this — and tacitly endorse Mitch McConnell’s strategy of obstruction — are handing power over to the very politicians who are orchestrating a nationwide campaign of voter suppression.

Here’s the good news, there is strong bipartisan support for action. Voters in all political parties (including 76% of West Virginia Republicans!) support the big and bold democracy solutions in the For the People Act.

The fact is, we can win if we act now, and build the biggest campaign we’ve ever run. Here’s how:

  • We’ve placed field organizers in key states to build community, business, and civic support for taking bold action to protect democracy.
  • We’re planning a major summer mobilization with national and local partners — with safe in-person events when members of Congress at home on recess.
  • We’re putting even more into the grassroots strategy that has already generated 2.5 million texts to voters, 13,000 calls to Senate offices, and 100,000 postcards to West Virginians.

Our timeline is short — the first Senate vote is expected to be the week of June 21, and we anticipate a filibuster. Over the July recess, we’ll put major pressure on senators in their home states — then urge the Senate to bring the bill up for another vote again and again, forcing senators to go on the record as many times as it takes to break through.

We’re all in. Are you? Here’s how you can get involved with this fight.

Here’s one thing I know for certain — our momentum in this fight is only growing. Hundreds of Common Causers have taken their first volunteer shift this week — joining thousands who have already taken action. We’re reaching more West Virginians each week, and generating thousands of calls to Sen. Manchin from his voters.

Our allies across multiple movements — climate justice, civil rights, labor — know that they can’t win without a democracy that works for all of us. They’re throwing in for this fight — as are literally thousands of community groups, small businesses, faith leaders, and civil society organizations.

That’s because they know — as you and I do — that this effort is bigger than just one person or one piece of legislation. It’s about whether we leave a better democracy for the next generation — and that’s a cause worth going all out for.

We all have a choice to make right now — and I hope you will choose to join us. Because if you worried what last year’s election would mean for the future of our democracy — I need you to know that that fight is far from over.

The anti-democracy forces that led to Trump’s presidency are still with us — and they’re working round the clock to regain their power. It will take your total commitment, and mine, to protect our democracy from this assault — and I hope that we can continue to count on your action.