Immediately after the vote on the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi held an emergency meeting with her caucus to discuss consequences for the 15 Democrats who each cast the deciding vote for the trade pact. Though no decision out of that meeting has been made public (if any decisions were actually made), powerful on-the-ground forces in some Democrats' districts are demanding that she follow up her call for accountability with action.
Specifically, a powerful coalition of unions and grassroots advocacy organizations in New York today have sent a letter to Pelosi (attached) asking her to remove Reps. Greg Meeks (D-NY) and Ed Towns (D-NY) from their positions on the Financial Services and Commerce Committees, respectively. And look at this excerpt to see how sharply worded their demands are:
"We urge you to remove Reps. Meeks and Towns from their seats on the Financial Services and Energy & Commerce committees, respectively. They have used their committee membership cards to access corporate America 's ATM at the expense of working families for far too long. It is time for Meeks and Towns to turn in their cash cards."
Along with this letter, this coalition has vowed to send letters to the roughly 75,000 union members in Meeks' and Towns' districts informing citizens about exactly how their congressional representatives are voting against their constituents' economic interests.
Just step back for a moment and really consider how big a deal this is: powerful local forces are asking the House Democratic leader to take away power from their local lawmakers, because their local lawmakers aren't representing them. And they are following up that call with action of their own.
No matter what comes of this, it can only be good for America's working families, progressives and the Democratic Party as a whole. You can bet these lawmakers and others are going to think very hard next time they decide to sell out the interests of ordinary Americans to fat-cat corporate interests, whether it be on trade or on another critical economic issue. And maybe then, Democrats will achieve the unity they so desperately need to be a true opposition party, and build better ideological credibility with the American people.
Center for American Progress
Pelosi held emergency caucus meeting after CAFTA vote:
The Hon. Nancy Pelosi
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Leader Pelosi:
The undersigned represent hundreds of thousands of members of labor and community organizations in New York.
We are appalled that two of our state 's congressional Representatives Gregory Meeks and Edolphus Towns -- voted to send American jobs overseas by supporting the Central American Free Trade Agreement.
Reps. Meeks and Towns had an opportunity to act on behalf of workers here in the United States and across Central America by stopping CAFTA. Instead they voted on the side of multinational corporations that want to sell off U.S. jobs to the lowest bidder while doing nothing to improve the lives of workers anywhere.
Moreover, Reps. Meeks and Towns have established a pattern of favoring corporate interests over working families. In addition to sending jobs overseas, Towns has supported shifting the tax burden from the most
affluent to working-class New Yorkers via elimination of the federal estate tax, and Meeks has sided with credit card companies over consumers by supporting the bankruptcy reform bill.
We urge you to remove Reps. Meeks and Towns from their seats on the Financial Services and Energy & Commerce committees, respectively. They have used their committee membership cards to access corporate America 's ATM at the expense of working families for far too long. It is time for Meeks and Towns to turn in their cash cards.
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