Bishop William J. Barber II, the North Carolina civil rights leader who helped lead a massive voter mobilization effort that touched millions of poor, low-income, and infrequent voters, has written a letter to Senate Democrats addressing a number of important items, including raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour and voting rights in the state of North Carolina.
He also spoke about Rev. Dr. Raphael Warnock’s U.S. Senate victory in Georgia and work that still needs to be done within Congress.
Bishop Barber said that Warnock’s victory “demonstrates the power of a moral vision and moral leadership to galvanize a fusion coalition for a new America.” He also acknowledged that his victory was not the result of ending voter suppression, but rather “evidence of the exceptional efforts of the people despite voter suppression.”
In particular, he noted the efforts of poor and low-wage workers of different backgrounds who joined together to fight extremism.
He went on to say that those poor and low wage workers deserve to see results on bills that have passed the House and are “sitting on Senator Schumer’s desk.”
“We know that voting rights protections, a $15 minimum wage, and protections for women’s rights have stalled because two Democrats have not been willing to unite around plans to carve out the filibuster and overcome the united obstruction of 50 Republicans,” he wrote. Bishop Barber went on to say that because voters turned out for Democrats during the midterm elections, it’s time for Senate Democrats to return the favor.
He then said that after Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy takes over the House, Democrats will have “no chance of passing any of these policies for the next two years.”
Bishop Barber wrote that before Democrats took control of the Senate in 2020, Senator Manchin supported the For the People Act and proposals to raise the minimum wage, but “he withdrew his support as soon as [Democrats] had the power to act.”
“You cannot afford to let history record that over a two-year period you did not use every method at your disposal to pass the For the People Act, Voting Rights Act Restoration, $15 dollar minimum wage, and protection of a woman’s right to choose—measures that already passed in the House, but have been blocked by the Senate’s filibuster,” he wrote.
Bishop Barber then acknowledged some of Democrats’ recent victories: the infrastructure bill, the Inflation Reduction Act, the Respect for Marriage Act, and more. He said that it’s time to “confront the common sense about lame duck sessions” and “show the people who worked tirelessly to keep Democrats in power that they are ready to go to work for them.”
“I am praying that you will call the votes and believe in the possibility of a Christmas miracle,” he concluded. “God has given the Senate an opportunity to change the heart of democracy. I pray you will take it.”
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