A coalition of 69 progressive organizations in California sent a letter to Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein demanding that she take steps to pass Democratic-backed legislation to overhaul the voting system, including abolishing or carving out the legislative filibuster or resign from the Senate.
“We, the 69 undersigned advocacy, civic, and environmental groups in California representing over 150,000 of your constituents, ask that you, publicly and by the end of November, call for the swift passage of the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act,” the letter states. “We further ask that you clearly and unequivocally call for abolishing or providing a voting rights exception to the Senate filibuster, which is being used to block consideration of both bills.”
“If you are unwilling to take these steps to protect our democracy, we ask that you resign and allow Governor Newsom to appoint a successor who is willing and able to fight for the survival of our country.”
The groups argued that voter integrity legislation passed by states like Texas, Georgia, Arizona, and others, would “obstruct people’s right to vote, will allow the intimidation of voters,” “gerrymander districts in order that politicians may choose their voters rather than being chosen by them,” and “give Republicans the ability to reject election results they don’t like.” They also said that voter integrity legislation is “being accompanied by a purge of responsible election officials nationwide and by the deliberate escalation of violence meant to intimidate officials, from school boards to state houses.” On top of that, they argued, was the “Big Lie,” former President Donald Trump’s assertion that the 2020 election was rigged.
“The sum of these efforts puts the survival of our nation as a democracy in extreme peril,” the groups said.
The groups expressed gratitude that Feinstein co-sponsored H.R.1/S.1, the federal election legislation that would have vastly expanded voter registration and federalized Presidential and Congressional Elections, which failed in the Senate after a Republican filibuster. The groups blamed Republicans for preventing the passage of H.R.1, and its successor bills, the “Freedom to Vote Act” and the “John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.” They argued that Republican gerrymandering has “ensured that Democrats will be mathematically prohibited from winning elections, even when their total number of votes cast statewide far exceeds that of their opponents.”
“We are headed toward permanent minority rule over much of the country and therefore over Congress and the presidency – a minority rule which will make a mockery of the idea that citizens have the right to determine how they are governed,” the groups said.
The letter then turned to its central contention: abolishing the legislative filibuster. The groups conceded that Feinstein could not swing the votes in favor of the bills by herself, but argued that she, as the “most senior Democrat in the Senate,” could swing the votes of moderate Democratic Senators.
The groups then issued a desperate warning. “President Biden was right when he described this as our greatest challenge since the Civil War – our survival as a nation depends on it,” they wrote. “And we are out of time. If the New Year arrives without voting rights protected, all will be lost.”
“Senator Feinstein, we need you to step up, now,” the groups concluded, reiterating their demand for Feinstein to call for the passage of the bills, and for the Senator “to clearly and unequivocally call for abolishing or providing a voting rights exception to the Senate filibuster so that this may be accomplished.”
“We need you to step up and fight for our democracy and for the United States of America,” the groups wrote. “If you can’t or won’t, please step aside so that someone more willing can take your place.”
Abolishing the legislative filibuster faces more hurdles than just Feinstein. Moderate Democrats, especially West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin and Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema have both said on multiple occasions that they strongly oppose abolishing or amending the legislative filibuster for any reason.