ACTION: Call these Republicans to support Cancel the Sequester (HR 900)

Now that John Conyers has introduced HR 900, the one-sentence bill that cancels the sequester, it’s time to round up support for it. As I wrote here:

■ The bill needs co-sponsors. Feel free to call your Congress guy or gal and make the request. A full list of House phone numbers is at the link. A full list of House Progressives (with phone numbers) will appear in this space in the next few days. Feel free to call. Every CPC member who co-sponsors this bill is an action-hero, not just a statement-hero. You can say so when you thank them.

■ There needs to be a Senate bill. A full list of Senate phone numbers is here. I’d start with Senator Merkley and Senator Sanders, since Merkley has already come out in favor of “cancel the sequester” and I imagine Sen. Sanders is in full agreement.

■ Finally, here’s a sweet list of vulnerable Republican House members, those sitting in districts won by Obama in 2012. They can be lobbied to support this; after all, voting to cut benefits to programs like Social Security and Medicare has got to be frightening indeed to these men and women. Worth a call? I think so.

This piece addresses the third point — whipping (phoning, motivating) vulnerable House Republicans and reminding them that their jobs could be on the line in a Sequester vote. It can be a “word from a friend” call — or a threatening “word to the wise” call — and it works whether or not you’re a constituent. This will be a key vote; they’ll hear you, even if they pretend not to.

Using a number of lists drawn mainly from DownWithTyranny posts, I’ve compiled a “master list” of Republicans made vulnerable by a bad (pro–benefit cuts) vote on any coming Obama–Boehner deal.

You can phone any or all of these people. Each congressperson’s vulnerability is listed below. Some, as I said, are in strong Obama districts. Some have statewide or national ambitions and are already modifying their hardcore stands. Some recently made themselves vulnerable in 2014 by voting for violence against women by voting against the VAWA. Some are vulnerable for all of these reasons plus one or two more.

All of the reasons a listed Republican is vulnerable are identified in columns 6 through 10 of the table below. If you like, you can use that information to tailor your pitch, your “ask.”

The “ask” when you call Republicans

When you call one of these Republicans, your goal is to ask them to vote No on a future deal for any of the following reasons:

▪ Promise to vote No on any Obama–Boehner deal that contains tax hikes, because … taxes! (This is a strong selling point, since Obama is desperate to include tax hikes in his deal offer.)

▪ Promise to vote No on any Obama–Boehner deal that cuts your Social Security and Medicare. (“Hands off my Social Security! Hands off my Medicare!”) Tell them there will be Hell.To.Pay if they mess with that.

▪ Promise to vote No on any Obama–Boehner deal period — because why give that man any victories at all?

… or at the very least, ask for support for the “safety hatch” bill, HR 900, which moots the discussion:

▪ Promise to vote Yes on HR 900, the Cancel the Sequester Act — because HR 900 does the same thing as all of the goals above, and it may come up first.

See the beauty of HR 900? You’re “back-door selling” support for HR 900, because if we can get that to the floor first, it heads off an ugly Obama–Boehner deal vote. When the Sequester, which has already been in effect for almost a week, finally rouses the public to hate it, one of those two votes will occur. The easy way out, for Dems and Repubs alike, is HR 900.

And there’s nothing in the pitch that’s a lie; it really is in their interest to do what you ask. You’re asking because it’s also in your interest.

1896 telephoneRun the pitch (the “ask”) in the order above, using any words you like. Feel free to add in anything from the table below that pertains to that person. (As in, “Look, Obama won your district by 50.1%. You want to stick around after 2014, and if you vote for benefit cuts, they’ll go after you. You’re already on the DCCC target list.”) That’s just a sample — you could also position yourself as ready to vote against them because you’re an SS recipient (if you are) and live in their district. Say whatever you want to say in words that make sense to you.

The bottom line — tell  them that their job may well depend on sinking an Obama–Boehner deal like a stone, and the cleanest way to do that is with HR 900. But ask for both — No on Obama–Boehner, when it arrives; Yes on HR 900 to get out of this mess, or if it comes up first.

In your own secret heart, you want HR 900 to come to the floor before anything Obama and Boehner can cook up. You also want a second win in a row against our benefit-cutting deal-maker. A number of these Republicans share that goal whole-heartedly.

The ask for Democrats will be structured differently, by the way, but more on that later. As I see it, this is the way to approach Republicans. Believe me, it will take the fringes of both parties — strong-spined progressives and frightened hardcore Republicans — to kill this centrist wet dream, this Obama–Boehner Grand Bargain.

Your list of Republican names

Now for the names. Get your dialing fingers ready.These 63 Republicans are among the most likely candidates to vote No on Obama–Boehner and/or Yes on HR 900. This list was culled from several lists of House Republicans using criteria identified below. In general, those criteria are identified in columns 6–10.

A couple of notes:

▪ This is a solid 63 House members. That’s a lot of Republicans to work with.

▪ Additional Republicans can be counted on to vote with them — there will be hell to pay in both parties if benefits start getting the ax. Unlike many House Democrats, I think House Republicans “get” the problem with benefit cuts. After all, weren’t those Republican voters yelling “Keep your gummint hands off my Medicare!” all through the Summer of Tea? These congressmen and women may love the Sequester, but voting on a deal to “fix” it is a different animal.

▪ Most Republicans are hard-wired to hate tax hikes, and Obama is desperate to include them as ground cover. Obama also needs tax hikes so he can bribe progressives into risking their own careers to “enhance” his own. Count on it; there will be tax hikes in any deal he gets agreement on.

▪ The Sequester will likely last a few weeks, since the effects won’t hit the country for a while, and frankly, the country has fear-fatigue. People may have to see it in their lives before they take CNN’s word for how bad the Sequester really is. This gives you time to make a bunch of calls. I’m guessing we have a solid month in which to work, but I could be off on that.

And now the criteria for creating this list. Huge hat-tip to Howie Klein at DownWithTyranny, from whose posts these lists were compiled. Every name below meets one or more of the following criteria (the link takes you to the source post for the names in each column):

Column 6: They’re sitting in an unsafe seat, a district where Obama did well. A vote against SS or Medicare could be especially deadly for these people. (Numbers in the column are Obama’s vote percentage in their district.)

Column 7: They voted against the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and Romney didn’t kill in their district. (Numbers in the column are Romney’s district vote percentage.) Women in those districts will be asked to go hunting for them in 2014 (shades of The Bacchantes), and the House member could be reminded of that. Voting in favor of violence against women isn’t going to go down well, especially when Democrats play that card early for all it’s worth in 2014. (If you want to be friendly, you can say: “Your supporters need you in the House, sir or madam; kill the Sequester and let’s move on. Any Obama Sequester deal will hurt your re-election.”)

Column 8: They voted for the VAWA (i.e., with the Democrats) because they want to climb in the party by seeking statewide or national office. Many are in blood-red districts but know they can’t become senators, for example, in a state-wide election if they show too many of their fangs. Their tell-tale vote with Dems on VAWA plus their ambition makes them good candidates for a call.

Column 9: This group has already made Steve Israel’s DCCC early target list. DCCC is the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the House organization that sometimes tries to elect Democrats. Israel is a hard-core neoliberal, and Pelosi’s hand-picked man for the job. He occasionally does it well. If this group is targeted, there’s a reason — vulnerability.

Column 10 (also here): These are Republican House members whom the DCCC has protected in the past. Ever wonder why House Democrats never run anyone who can win against Paul Ryan? Or Eric Cantor? Or Buck McKeon, one of the most corrupt men in Congress and a man in Sheldon Adelson’s back pocket? According to Howie, Steve Israel has a “deal” going with Repubs in leadership positions — hands off.

So why are they on this call list? Because there are stories going around that the hands-off deal will be cancelled for 2014. Oops. Now they may actually have to run a campaign. Call them and see if I’m right.

A column I didn’t include but could have — some House Republicans hate Boehner. You can start with the vote against Boehner for Speaker at the beginning of the year. There are 13 Republicans on that list. If you click, the votes against Boehner are listed after the two main voting blocs. Every Repub who didn’t vote for Boehner is opposed to him. [Update: 12, not 13. Boehner didn’t vote for Boehner.]

There you have it — 63 candidates ripe for a phone call, or a hundred of them. 63 Republicans who could help sink any Sequester deal, either by voting No on the deal itself, or Yes on HR 900. Feel free to print, save and over-use this list. And if you get interesting responses, I’d love to read them in the comments. (For a fast link to just this table, bookmark this link.)

Republicans most likely to Oppose Obama–Boehner and/or Support HR 900

Last Name First Name District Party Phone Number Strong Obama districts Anti-
DCCC targets  DCCC hands
Col 1 Col 2 Col 3 Col 4 Col 5 Col 6 Col 7 Col 8 Col 9 Col 10
Bachmann Michele MN-6 R 202-225-2331 56.6
Barr Andy KY-6 R 202-225-4706 Y
Benishek Dan MI-01 R 202-225-4735 Y
Bentivolio Kerry MI-11 R 202-225-8171 52.3
Camp Dave MI-04 R 202-225-3561 Y
Campbell John CA-45 R 202-225-5611 54.8
Capito Shelley WV-2 R 202-225-2711 Y
Chabot Steve OH-01 R 202-225-2216 52.4
Coffman Mike CO-6 R 202-225-7882 51.6 Y
Davis Rodney IL-13 R 202-225-2371 48.8
Denham Jeff CA-10 R 202-225-4540 50.6
Dent Charlie PA-15 R 202-225-6411 47.9
Diaz-Balart Mario FL-25 R 202-225-4211 48.7
Duffy Sean WI-7 R 202-225-3365 47.8
Fitzpatrick Michael PA-08 R 202-225-4276 49.3
Forbes J. Randy VA-04 R 202-225-6365 48.8 50.1
Garrett Scott NJ-05 R 202-225-4465 50.5
Gerlach Jim PA-06 R 202-225-4315 48.1
Gibson Chris NY-19 R 202-225-5614 52.1
Griffin Tim AR-2 R 202-225-2506 54.7
Grimm Michael NY-11 R 202-225-3371 51.6 Y
Hanna Richard NY-22 R 202-225-3665 48.8
Heck Joe NV-3 R 202-225-3252 49.5
Herrera Beutler Jaime WA-03 R 202-225-3536 47.9
Hultgren Randy IL-14 R 202-225-2976 54.2
Issa Darrell CA-49 R 202-225-3906 Y
Johnson Bill OH-06 R 202-225-5705 55.2
Joyce David OH-14 R 202-225-5731 47.6
King Steve IA-4 R 202-225-4426 53.4
Kline John MN-2 R 202-225-2271 49.1 Y Y
Latham Tom IA-3 R 202-225-5476 51.4
LoBiondo Frank NJ-02 R 202-225-6572 53.5 Y
McCarthy Kevin CA-23 R 202-225-2915 Y
McHenry Patrick NC-10 R 202-225-2576 Y
McKeon Howard (Buck) CA-25 R 202-225-1956 47.8 Y
McKinley David WV-1 R 202-225-4172 Y
Meehan Patrick PA-07 R 202-225-2011 48.5
Mica John FL-07 R 202-225-4035 47.1 51.8
Miller Gary CA-31 R 202-225-3201 57.2
Paulsen Erik MN-3 R 202-225-2871 49.6
Petri Tom WI-6 R 202-225-2476 53.1
Pitts Joe PA-16 R 202-225-2411 52.4
Reed Tom NY-23 R 202-225-3161 48.4
Reichert Dave WA-08 R 202-225-7761 49.7
Ribble Reid WI-8 R 202-225-5665 47.6 51.3
Rigell Scott VA-02 R 202-225-4215 50.1 Y
Rogers Mike MI-08 R 202-225-4872 48.0 Y
Rohrabacher Dana CA-48 R 202-225-2415 54.7
Ros-Lehtinen Ileana FL-27 R 202-225-3931 53.1
Royce Ed CA-39 R 202-225-4111 47.1 Y
Runyan Jon NJ-03 R 202-225-4765 51.8
Ryan Paul WI-1 R 202-225-3031 47.4 Y Y
Smith Christopher NJ-04 R 202-225-3765 53.6
Southerland Steve FL-02 R 202-225-5235 52.3
Terry Lee NE-2 R 202-225-4155 Y
Turner Michael OH-10 R 202-225-6465 48.2 Y
Upton Fred MI-06 R 202-225-3761 48.4 Y
Valadao David CA-21 R 202-225-4695 54.6
Walberg Tim MI-07 R 202-225-6276 51.0
Walden Greg OR-02 R 202-225-6730 Y
Webster Daniel FL-10 R 202-225-2176 Y
Wolf Frank VA-10 R 202-225-5136 48.8 49.9
Young C.W.  (Bill) FL-13 R 202-225-5961 50.1

Again, to bookmark this table, use this link.

As always, thanks for your help. We won at Lame Duck time; that was a major victory. Benefit cuts never came up for a vote, and that was thanks to you.

We can win this time too. Benefit cuts are toxic — Democrats and Republicans alike will lost their seats with a Yes to Cuts vote. And HR 900 provides a great way for both of them to do what they most want do to … preserve that great Washington job, the one with all the benefits.


To follow or send links: @Gaius_Publius

Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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