fresh voices from the front lines of change







On a call this morning to discuss the continuing obstruction of ... everything ... by Senate Republicans, Communications Workers of America (CWA) President Larry Cohen asked Senate Democrats to change the rules to at least get nominees to the floor for a vote. It may be Republicans who are obstructing, but Democrats have the power to stop them, and are not doing it. “We’re done and we expect them to step up or tell us why does it make any difference if you get reelected or not? Why do we care, if you won’t govern, if you are not there with us?”

Cohen asked, "How does a President campaign for 2 years, win overwhelmingly and then his nominees never even get a vote?" Later saying, "We are not going to sit back and see these agencies fall apart, not see 1/10 of 1% literally take over the nation."

Obstruction A Structural Block To Social Change

Currently a number of nominees to federal courts, agencies and departments are being blocked by the Republican minority in the Senate. Along with all bills of any signifiacnce they are obstructing these nominees. This obstruction is not about objections to the nominees themselves, but instead is part of a larger strategy to keep government from functioning, now that the public has voted for things that the giant corporations and billionaires see as against their interests. Cohen called this obstruction a "structural block to social change in this country."

Cohen is asking Senate Democrats to change Senate rules so that at least nominees -- if not bills with majority support -- can start to make their way through and at least some of the government can function again. Cohen said the Republicans are acting in concert with the Chamber of Commerce, corporate law firms, right-wing media and others, blocking about 80 judicial vacancies, the EPA nominee, the Labor Department nominee, the nominee to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the National Labor Relation Board, among others.

Speaking of Democrats in the Senate, Cohen said, "Do you care about the fact that government is not functioning? ... Before now it was with rare exceptions that nominees were not confirmed. ... Are you prepared to take action?" And to partners in the progressive coalition that is working to get Senate Democrats to change the rules that currently allow this obstruction, Fix The Senate Now, Cohen asked, "Are we prepared, as democracy advocates, that we will not put up with Democrats who don’t act? We expect Democratss in Senate to stand up and say, with the White House, that this government did get elected, and is going to function."

Cohen is asking for a minimal rule change so nominations get to floor, and that after some number of hours there be an up or down vote. "This is what kids are taught in 5th grade civics class," he said.

You Can Help

The Give Us 5 campaign is asking the Senate to confirm the entire "package" of 5 NLRB nominees, including the Republican nominees, so the NLRB can get completely up and running. Please visit this Give Us 5 action page: Workers Need a Fully-Functioning National Labor Relations Board for information and to sign the petition.

PS you can listen to the entire call here: WHY THE NLRB MATTERS.


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