Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Weekly Steps of Activism: Tell Your Senators to Withhold Consent

Trump colluded with Russia and the utterly unconscionable Republicans in Congress aren’t going to stand up to him. We have to force the Democrats in office to obstruct, obstruct, obstruct. Specifically, please call on your Democrat senators to withhold unanimous consent until a special prosecutor has been appointed to the Trump Russia investigation. Here is what withholding unanimous consent means and does:

How the Senate really works: unanimous consent. The rules of the Senate ensure that individual senators have immense power to interrupt the regular course of business. For example, Senators have the power to speak their minds on the floor, raise points of order and other motions, call for votes and quorum calls, and offer amendments, among other things.

Because of this wide leeway given to individual senators, the only way the majority can ensure the Senate’s day-to-day business runs smoothly is by asking for the “unanimous consent” (UC) of all senators to operate. Under normal circumstances, the Majority and Minority Leaders of the Senate negotiate “unanimous consent agreements” that set the schedule for and structure of debate on the Senate floor and waive pesky procedural hurdles. These UC agreements basically just mean “We’re all going to agree to shut up so we can get stuff done today.”

As the name implies, “unanimous consent” only works if no one objects, so if you don’t like what the Trump Administration or the Senate is doing, urge your senator to object to all “UC” requests. Your senator simply needs to be on the Senate floor when a UC request is offered and say “I object!”

The power to delay is the power to win. Without unanimous consent agreements, every single thing the Senate does takes longer, because the Senate leadership has to go through tedious additional processes to move forward with business. Committee hearings will be delayed, 15-minute votes on mundane Senate business at inconvenient times will be required (much to the distress of senators who hate working the weekend), and hours and hours of debate will have to be logged before reaching final votes.

A single senator engaging in a single act of withholding consent can delay Senate action for days. And just think: all the time spent on this time-consuming, tedious procedure is time that can’t be spent rubber-stamping President’s Trump agenda. When we delay, we win.

Here’s a script to use when calling your senators:

Hi, my name is [name] and I’m a constituent from [_].

I’m calling to express my serious concerns about Trump’s recent actions interfering in the Russian investigation and the constitutional crisis we are now facing. These problems must be immediately addressed, and I urge Senator [name] to withhold unanimous consent and hold no votes or confirmations on the Senate floor until an independent investigation is established.

Thank you for your time and attention.

[IF LEAVING A VOICEMAIL: please leave your full street address to ensure your call is tallied]

4 comments… add one
  • avatar

    Kate May 17, 2017, 6:45 am

    I called Senator Markey and left a vm. I doubt Elizabeth Warren needs me to tell her this…

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    • Copa

      Copa May 17, 2017, 11:02 am


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      • avatar

        Kate May 17, 2017, 11:10 am

        So does my dad. If he had a “free pass” list, she’d be on it. Which is dangerous because they live in the same general area. He campaigns door to door and/or on the phone for her, and she thanked him personally when she saw him holding a sign at the polling place and he almost swooned.

  • avatar

    SpaceySteph May 17, 2017, 11:36 am

    Oh, would that I had a single democrat representing me in Congress. Instead I have Ted Cruz AND a member of the House Freedom Caucus “representing” me.

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