After GOP blockade of For the People Act, progressives mobilize ‘Deadline for Democracy’

"It's all hands on deck for this Deadline for Democracy."

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SOURCECommon Dreams
Image Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Eyeing what they see as a fast-approaching “deadline for our democracy,” progressive groups are mobilizing for a nationwide campaign to pressure lawmakers to pass the For the People Act.

“We need wide-scale public pressure,” say the groups behind the Deadline for Democracy campaign. “Not in September. Not in early 2022. Right now—in the weeks leading up to the final showdown in July.”

The official kickoff of the campaign is Monday, though related events are already starting this weekend including a Saturday “Freedom to Vote” rally on Boston Common. “There is overwhelming public support for voting rights!” the coalition organizing the Boston rally explains. “We must keep pushing the Senate to pass S.1—For the People Act.”

The campaign—an effort of scores of groups including Indivisible, Declaration for American Democracy Coalition, and Stand Up America—is seizing the June 28-July 10 recess as a key time period to push pressure on lawmakers to support the legislation, which passed the House in March but was blocked this week by Senate Republicans using the filibuster.

The need to significantly ramp up pressure is urgent, the groups say, in part because of the House of Representatives’ longer recess that begins at the end of July. In addition, the campaign website says:

Election administration experts advise us that many provisions of the democracy reform bill, such as the anti-gerrymandering independent redistricting commissions, will take significant time to implement ahead of the next midterm elections. These experts tell us things start getting dicey if we fail to pass the bill by the end of this summer. In other words, if you want to actually prevent gerrymandering and voter suppression in the 2022 midterm elections, you can’t delay the For the People Act much beyond the summer.

Senate Republicans’ Tuesday stalling of the voting rights bill prompted outrage from progressives like MoveOn executive director Rahna Epting, who said the GOP “doubled down on its continued assault on American democracy” was further evidence that “the filibuster must go.”

Stand Up America founder and president Sean Eldridge, in a statement Tuesday, blasted Senate Republicans for standing “with voter suppression instead of protecting our freedom to vote.”

“It’s going to be a long, hot summer for any member of the Senate who doesn’t do everything in their power to protect our freedom to vote,” he added. “They will be hearing from us in the days ahead in their inboxes, on the phones, and at rallies across the country.”

S.1’s lead sponsor, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), remained undeterred in his push for a voting reform bill, declaring in a statement Tuesday: “Today’s vote is the start of this battle, not the end.”  

That could be because a “For the People Act 2.0” is in the works, as Rolling Stone reported this week.

In interviews with Rolling Stone, lawmakers and staffers who work on voting rights and democracy reform described a multi-part, months-long game plan that will play out this summer and fall. The aim is to pass a new version of the For the People Act as well as a companion measure to be named after the late civil-rights leader and congressman John Lewis. That bill, known as H.R. 4, would restore a key pillar of the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act to prevent future voting-rights discrimination.

As Indivisible sees it, “Republicans have reacted to recent losses by trying to make a broken system even worse.”

“We can stop them with the For the People Act,” the group tweeted Friday, “but it must pass soon to take effect before next year’s midterms. It’s all hands on deck for this Deadline for Democracy.”

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