My comments to Congressional leaders: Congratulations for your outstanding efforts protecting the people over the corporations and Big Govt. Please enjoy your holiday break however you choose to celebrate your well deserved time off.
Dear MoveOn member,
As the White House battled the emerging scandal about Bush’s illegal spying activity, Congressional Republicans waged a no-holds-barred campaign to force through three of their top priorities for 2005: the Patriot Act, drilling in the Arctic, and the reverse Robin Hood budget. They held 5:00 AM votes, hitched their agenda to the defense spending bill—they even flew Dick Cheney back from Afghanistan to break a tie in the Senate.
And, thanks in large part to your efforts, they failed.
As the holidays approach, we’re thankful democracy can still work: thousands of us weighed in and Democrats stood up and fought. They protected health care for the poor, our civil liberties, and a pristine environment. So we’re delivering some virtual holiday cards to the Democratic leadership to show that when they take bold stands, they won’t be standing alone.
To add your name and send a card online, just click here:
Here’s what happened:
The Patriot Act:
Some of the most invasive provisions of the Patriot Act were scheduled to expire at the end of the year, and Bush made permanently extending them a top priority. But last week, Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold led a bipartisan filibuster to demand that Congress first implement crucial ammendments to protect the privacy of ordinary citizens.1 Just this morning the Whitehouse backed down and Congress now has six months to add the key fixes.2
How you helped: MoveOn members contributed over 220,000 signatures and over 5,000 phone calls to help make this victory possible. Here’s one of thousands of comments MoveOn members poured into Congress:
Not only do I regard myself as patriotic, but I also served four years in the U.S. Air Force in large measure because I so strongly believe in the principles of freedom that earlier veterans fought so hard to protect. We simply can’t allow those freedoms to be muddied by ill-advised laws that hasn’t been sufficiently thought through. I’m speaking particularly of the Patriot Act.
– Laura, Coconut Creek, FL
Drilling in the Arctic:
When they couldn’t get Arctic drilling through the Senate on a fair vote, the Republican leadership tried to force it through by bundling it with this year’s defense spending. Their strategy: paint Democrats who opposed Arctic drilling as anti-troop. But Washington Senator Maria Cantwell led the rest of the Democratic senators in a bold move to block the Republican maneuver, protecting the Artic without endangering funding for our troops.3
How you helped: MoveOn members helped make this victory possible by phoning in over 7,000 calls in key states, and writing over 7,500 letters, like this one:
Vote no on the provision concerning drilling in Alaska for oil. Place such items in the correct bills and do not try to hoodwink the people."
– Jerry, IL
The Reverse Robin Hood Budget:
This week Republicans desperately wanted to pass a budget that would slash billions of dollars in health care, education and family services for the poor while handing out tax breaks to the rich.
Monday morning, we narrowly lost a 5:00 AM vote in the House, and the bill went to the Senate where special budget rules prevented a filibuster. Yesterday morning, every single Democrat and five Republicans voted against the proposal—bringing the vote count to 50-50. To break the tie, Dick Cheney flew all the way from Afghanistan, like an anti-Santa Claus on an all night journey to take health care from poor children just in time for Christmas.5
Despite this heartbreaking loss, Democrats were able to block the cuts from taking effect and sent the whole package back to the House of Representatives for a final vote early next year. As public outrage grows and more moderate Republicans abandon their party’s extremist leadership, the door to victory remains open.6
How you helped: MoveOn members submitted 8,700 personal photos, phoned in 45,000 calls, wrote 13,000 letters to the editor, wrote 140,000 letters to Congress, and submitted 250,000 signatures to help make this victory possible.
This week we went from office to office in the House and Senate delivering your petitions and letters (often directly to Members of Congress.) At every stop, phones were literally ringing off the hook and the emails were pouring in. In Republican and Democratic offices alike we heard the same thing—your representatives know that MoveOn members in their district are paying attention and must not be ignored. Several even told us directly that the volume of calls opposing the budget swayed their final vote.
As 2005 comes to a close, we’re thankful that our elected leaders are beginning to stand together and make the right decisions for our country. But we’re even more thankful for the thousands of you and our millions of partners in the progressive movement who make this democracy work.
Wishing you and yours a happy holidays,
–Ben, Nita, Wes, Justin, Marika and the MoveOn.org Political Action Team
Wednesday, December 22, 2005
P.S. Many MoveOn members have expressed outrage about Bush’s illegal spying on American citizens and clear contempt for the law. We’ll be tracking this story as it develops and looking for an opportunity to weigh in—so stay tuned.
P.P.S. If progressives can hold our ground this well against a Republican-controlled House and Senate, just imagine what we’ll be able to accomplish when we take back Congress in ’06!
1. "Senate Rejects Extension of Patriot Act," The Associated Press, December 17, 2005
2. "Senate Votes to Extend Patriot Act for 6 months," The Washington Post, December 22, 2005
3. "Senate Blocks Arctic Drilling and Approves Budget Cuts," New York Times, December 21, 2005
4. "Cheney returns to Washington for crucial votes," Financial Times, December 20, 2005
5. "Pelosi Salutes Senate Democrats on ANWR Vote; Vows to Force House Budget Vote in Light of Day," Statement by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, December 21, 2005
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