A coalition of more than 40 progressive groups — Just Democracy — is ramping up the pressure on new Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer by running a digital billboard in New York's Times Square, at the heart of Schumer's home state, urging him to end the Senate filibuster. The filibuster rule requires most legislation to reach 60 votes to pass in the Senate.
The coalition — made up of more than 40 grassroots civil rights and social justice groups from around the country — created and paid for the week-long billboard starting Monday.
Just Democracy tweeted Sunday that the billboard was previewed on NBC's "Meet the Press" earlier in the day:
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., the majority whip, said on "Meet the Press" that "the American people want us to take action, action on this pandemic, action on this economy and on a host of other issues, and if this filibuster has become so common in the Senate that we can't act, that we just sit there helpless, shame on us. Of course we should consider a change in the rule under those circumstances."
The Just Democracy ad quotes Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: "A cherished tool of segregationists"; former President Barack Obama: "Jim Crow relic"; and ex-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: "Outlived its usefulness." Ocasio-Cortez is reportedly considering a challenge to Schumer for his Senate seat in 2022.
"Democrats gained control of the Senate because of Black and Brown organizers and voters," Stasha Rhodes, campaign director for 51 for 51 and a member of the Just Democracy coalition, said in a statement. "Now they have a chance to remove the biggest impediment to the legislation those voters care about most — voting rights, healthcare, a serious COVID rescue package and more."
Meanwhile, another progressive/labor coalition — Fix Our Senate — ran a full-page ad in Sunday's New York Times that also pushed Schumer to end the filibuster. "There is absolutely no reason to give Sen. McConnell months and months to prove what we absolutely know — that he is going to continue his gridlock and dysfunction from the minority," said Eli Zupnick, a spokesman for Fix Our Senate. The group has launched a six-figure ad campaign and plans to deploy field staff in states where Democratic senators have expressed reluctance to ditch the rule.