Updated: Cancel the Sequester bill has six (now twelve) new co-sponsors

UPDATE: As if by magic, we have six new co-sponsors for HR 900, in addition to the six noted in the body of this post. The new names are:

Rep Bonamici, Suzanne [OR-1] — 202-225-0855
Rep Lewis, John [GA-5] — 202-225-3801
Rep McCollum, Betty [MN-4] — 202-225-6631
Rep Moran, James P. [VA-8] — 202-225-4376
Rep Takano, Mark [CA-41] — 202-225-2305
Rep Waters, Maxine [CA-43] — 202-225-2201

They too deserve your thanks. Note especially Betty McCollum. She’s not a CPC member, and not a signer of Grayson-Takano. Good; it’s attracting moderate support as well.

As I wrote yesterday, the effort to win the Sequester fight involves whipping support for HR 900, the one-sentence Cancel the Sequester bill. The clock is ticking; we may have only a few weeks. My three-pronged approach:

Getting Dems to co-sponsor. If every Dem signing either No Cuts letter (Grayson-Takano or the CPC letter) cosponsored HR 900, there would be over 100 sponsors.

Getting the bill introduced in the Senate. Why is that taking so long? I can think of five senators immediately who ought to be all over it.

Getting likely Republicans to oppose any sequester deal but HR 900. Those votes are out there; we just have to organize and whip them. Some Rs are electorally vulnerable. Some hate Boehner. Some will vote against any tax hike. No one in a “soft” R district wants their fingerprints on SS and Medicare benefit cuts.

To further the third item, lobbying (whipping; phoning) Republicans to bolster support against Obama and Boehner and for cancelling the Sequester, I’ve published a list of likely suspects. You can see that list here. The post containing it gives the details. If you want to help make calls, please do. We really need your support.

us capitol building inauguration

Capitol via Shutterstock.

Dirty little secret — resistance to cancelling the sequester is coming mainly from (a) Democrats who are frightened of their own leadership or onboard with benefit cuts, whether they admit it or not; and (b) Republicans who really like the sequester and the damage it will do. (On the latter, check out this terrific Rick Perlstein piece.)

But many Republicans will lose their seats if they put their fingerprints on Social Security and Medicare cuts (you can tell them so yourself). And the same will be true of a number of Democrats, whether they know it or not. Obama and Pete Peterson want those cuts, and neither will face another election. Not so for Democrats who aren’t full-throated in their opposition to Dem dismantlement of social insurance.

This piece is about Democrats who are full-throated and both promising and delivering action. Blessings and praise upon them all.

Which Democrats are genuinely opposed to benefit cuts?

Democrats fall into three groups on this issue. Some are strongly in favor of benefit cuts. This group includes Barack Obama (obviously) and also House neoliberals like Steny Hoyer and neoliberal enablers like Nancy Pelosi. Some oppose cuts but don’t want to buck the neoliberal leaders of their party.

But some Democrats are actually promising action against cuts, with their organizing and with their votes. It’s this group I want to recognize and thank. So let’s start with this.

HR 900, the Cancel the Sequester bill, is one of our cleanest ways to get a win in this round. It now has new co-sponsors. There’s the full list, with the date of their cosponsorship:

Rep Jackson Lee, Sheila [TX-18] – 2/28/2013
Rep Wilson, Frederica S. [FL-24] – 2/28/2013
Rep Grayson, Alan [FL-9] – 2/28/2013
Rep Johnson, Henry C. “Hank,” Jr. [GA-4] – 3/5/2013
Rep Cartwright, Matt [PA-17] – 3/5/2013
Rep Ellison, Keith [MN-5] – 3/5/2013
Rep Grijalva, Raul M. [AZ-3] – 3/5/2013
Rep Payne, Donald M., Jr. [NJ-10] – 3/5/2013
Rep Christensen, Donna M. [VI] – 3/5/2013

The names in bold are the new co-sponsors. Did you spot the two leaders of the CPC (House progressive caucus) on the list, Keith Ellison and Raul Grijalva? Good. This is an excellent first step. These folks are listed also below, along with others, in a table with phone numbers. If you like, you can call to thank them. Operators are standing by.

In their statement of support for HR 900, Grijalva and Ellison said this:

“If the Republicans won’t work with us to replace the sequester, we should repeal it entirely as proposed by Rep. Conyers  (D-MI) in H.R. 900 and spare working families. This will allow Congress to pass an appropriations bill that protects working families and the American economy.”

Exactly right, and a fine statement it is, this time backed by the promise of action. Both Grijalva and Ellison are signers of the Grayson-Takano letter stating they will vote an unequivocal No on any sequester bill with benefit cuts. Thanks, gentlemen.

Who are the Sequester heroes so far?

Every Democrat who  co-sponsors HR 900 deserves your praise and financial support. Likewise every Democrat who signed the Grayson–Takano letter promising to vote against benefit cuts — especially if they con-sponsor HR 900 as well. These are our heroes — may the numbers grow.

Democrats who co-sponsor HR 900 and/or signed the
Grayson-Takano letter promising to vote No on cuts

Sponsor HR 900 Signed Grayson-Takano Last Name First Name District Party Phone Number CPC  Frosh
1 Brown Corrine FL-05 D 202-225-0123 1
1 1 Cartwright Matt PA-17 D 202-225-5546 1 Y
1 Castor Kathy FL-14 D 202-225-3376 0
1 Christensen Donna VI D-Del 202-225-1790 1
2 1 Conyers John MI-13 D 202-225-5126 1
1 Davis Danny IL-07 D 202-225-5006 1
1 DeFazio Peter OR-04 D 202-225-6416 1
1 1 Ellison Keith MN-5 D 202-225-4755 3
1 Faleomavaega Eni AS D-Del 202-225-8577 0
1 2 Grayson Alan FL-09 D 202-225-9889 1 Y
1 Green Gene TX-29 D 202-225-1688 0
1 1 Grijalva Raúl AZ-3 D 202-225-2435 3
1 Gutierrez Luis IL-04 D 202-225-8203 1
1 Hastings Alcee FL-20 D 202-225-1313 0
1 Jackson Lee Sheila TX-18 D 202-225-3816 2
1 Johnson Hank GA-04 D 202-225-1605 0
1 Kaptur Marcy OH-09 D 202-225-4146 1
1 Lee Barbara CA-13 D 202-225-2661 2
1 Markey Edward MA-5 D 202-225-2836 1
1 McGovern Jim MA-2 D 202-225-6101 1
1 Nadler Jerrold NY-10 D 202-225-5635 1
1 Napolitano Graciela CA-32 D 202-225-5256 0
1 Nolan Rick MN-8 D 202-225-6211 1 Y
1 Payne Jr. Donald NJ-10 D 202-225-3436 0 Y
1 Serrano José NY-15 D 202-225-4361 1
2 Takano Mark CA-41 D 202-225-2305 1 Y
1 Velázquez Nydia NY-07 D 202-225-2361 1
1 Waters Maxine CA-43 D 202-225-2201 1
1 Wilson Frederica FL-24 D 202-225-4506 0

So far so good. This is 29 names, but only 27 No votes — the names marked “D-Del” in the Party column are non-voting delegates to the House, in this case, from the Virgin Islands and American Samoa.

Still, 27 votes is a start. Now we need to grow that list. And time is not on our side.

Next steps, and an action for you

The next post in this series will identify which Democrats are in the second group mentioned above — Democrats who have voiced opposition to benefit cuts, but haven’t yet said how they will vote. Some of these are actually opposed to cuts but fear the wrath of Dem leadership. Others may not be opposed to cuts at all. (There are “progressives” who just play one on TV, you know.) But in either case, we’ll deal with that group later.

There are 9 co-sponsors for HR 900. We need more, so let’s start here, by getting that number to 29 using the names on that list.

Consider calling at least five names on the list above, especially if your representative is on it:

■ Anyone who has both co-sponsored HR 900 and signed Grayson–Takano — for example, Matt Cartwright of Pennsylvania — call to say Thank You and consider writing a check. Seriously.

■ Anyone who has signed Grayson–Takano and not yet co-sponsored HR 900 — for example, Corrine Brown of Florida — call to say Thank You and ask them to add themselves to the co-sponsor list. If they do, consider writing a check.

■ Anyone who has only co-sponsored HR 900 — for example, Hank Johnson of Georgia —  just call and say thanks. Again, consider also writing a check. . Co-sponsorship is all we’re asking for, and these folks are all going off the Obama–Hoyer reservation for us. They need to know and see that we appreciate it.

Our goal with all of these Democratic whip lists is to get as many HR 900 co-sponsors possible. This post is to recognize and thank the Dem willing. Next we’ll deal with the Dem resistant.

Remember, we have only a few weeks to work this. As soon as Obama and Boehner figure out how to triangulate both sides — vulnerable resistant Republicans and willowy progressive Democrats — we’re into a new part of the game. Let’s end this now if we can before that occurs.

By the way, if you think your call has no effect, think again. If enough congresspeople get called because of posts like this, people like me who write them hear about it. Calling is a powerful tool.

As always, thanks! And if you do have any interesting phone conversations, post the information in the comments.


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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