At the beginning of this month and New Year, the one-year anniversary of the violent January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol brought into sharp focus the urgent need to safeguard our democracy.
Hundreds of people, including LCV staffers and supporters who helped organize the event, gathered outside of the U.S. Capitol for a Candlelight Vigil For Democracy – while thousands more gathered in more than 300 similar vigils across the country – in remembrance of that dark day one year ago. Our message to leaders in Congress and state Capitols across the country was clear: Voters decide elections.
Less than two weeks later, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we observed and honored the generations-long struggle to secure and strengthen voting rights for all people — especially Black, Indigenous, and Latinx people, young people, and people with disabilities, who are most impacted by voter suppression efforts. LCV joined Dr. King’s family for a march across the Frederick Douglass bridge in Washington, D.C., to call on Congress to honor Dr. King’s legacy by passing federal voting rights and pro-democracy legislation that would ensure free and fair elections for all.
Throughout the last year, LCV has advocated and organized for Congress to pass the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act, the Protecting Our Democracy Act, and the Washington D.C. Admission Act by any procedural means necessary. We will continue to push for free and fair elections until everyone in this country is able to have their voices heard equally.
For years, LCV has been pushing for voting rights and democracy reforms because we cannot have a healthy environment without a healthy democracy. And for the first time, LCV has also elevated strengthening democracy to a stand-alone goal in our four-year strategic plan — a priority on par with addressing climate change. We also recently made the unprecedented decision to announce that support of a non-environmental bill is needed in order to even be considered for endorsement to Congress. Read about this, and more, in this month’s LCV Top 5:
On January 13, in an unprecedented joint decision, major election and advocacy organizations, including LCV, sent a letter informing Congress that these groups will only consider endorsements for those who take all necessary measures to pass key voting rights and pro-democracy measures. In addition to LCV, the list of groups include Black Voters Matter Fund, Collective PAC, End Citizens United // Let America Vote, and Latino Victory Fund.
This is the first time that LCV’s affiliated political committee, LCV Action Fund, has stated that support of a non-environmental bill is needed in order to even be considered for endorsement. When asked about this decision by The Atlantic, Gene Karpinski, LCV President, said, “I think going forward, particularly when it comes to an issue like voting rights, senators and people who want to be senators need to understand there is only one place to stand to be on the right side of history,”
On January 19, LCV issued a progress report of President Biden and Vice President Harris’ first year in office. The report evaluates the progress made on each of the top priorities LCV laid out ahead of this administration’s first day in office and provides a ranking of either Accomplished, Partially Accomplished, or Not Accomplished.
Traditionally, LCV has provided a letter grade after a president’s first year in office. However, this year, with key progress on climate, jobs, and justice still hanging in the balance, we’re granting the Biden-Harris administration an extension until the Build Back Better Act is enacted into law.
In past years, President Trump received an F, President Obama received a B+, President George W. Bush received a D-, and President Clinton received a C+. Read the full progress report on the Biden-Harris administration here.
Related: Next month, LCV will release its annual National Environmental Scorecard online — our version of a report card for Congress. The Scorecard is a nationally recognized yardstick that scores how every member of Congress voted on the most important issues of the year, including environmental, public health, democracy, and energy issues. Stay tuned for the 2021 Scorecard and check out prior Scorecards here.
Over the last year, despite facing unprecedented challenges, states made tremendous progress to advance clean energy across the country. At the end of December 2021, LCV released a new Clean Energy For All (CEFA) report that details how 28 states passed either comprehensive climate or clean energy legislation, stopped new fossil-fuel industry backed efforts, or made major advancements through public utilities boards.
These wins are thanks to the work of LCV’s network of 30+ state affiliates, collectively known as the Conservation Voter Movement (CVM). CVM-driven progress highlighted in the report includes Illinois enacting the most equitable climate bill in the U.S. and Nebraska becoming the first “red state” to commit to net-zero emissions. Since launching the CEFA campaign in 2018, LCV and our state affiliates have secured 100% clean energy commitments from more than 1,300 successful local, state, and federal candidates and helped win policies that mean nearly 40% of people in the U.S. now live in places committed to 100% clean energy. Need a dose of good news? Read the full report here.
On January 12, leading environmental groups, including LCV, EDF Action, NRDC, Sierra Club, and Climate Action Campaign, released a memo summarizing critical environmental and climate polling data from 2021. The polling results, in short, underscore that voters have heightened concern about climate change and want to see Congress take action.
Key findings from polling data taken in 2021 show that climate change is a top concern for people living in the U.S., that people in the U.S. are most likely to believe that climate change is having at least “some” effect on extreme weather events including wildfires and droughts, and that significant numbers of Republican voters disagree with how their party leaders are handling climate and environmental issues. Read all top 10 takeaways and the full polling summary memo here.
With time running out to solve the “code-red emergency” that is the climate crisis, — and continued demand from voters who want real relief from energy costs and the opportunity for good-paying jobs from a new clean energy economy — there is still an overwhelmingly strong political, economic, and scientific imperative for Congress to pass strong climate action with the Build Back Better provisions.
The deadly, devastating and staggering costs of inaction on the climate crisis— including nearly 700 deaths and more than $145 billion in damages due to climate-related disasters in the U.S — make clear that we’re out of time to act. On January 19, President Biden held a press conference and expressed confidence about the climate provisions in the Build Back Better Act. LCV was encouraged by his optimism and continues to urge the Senate to pass the Build Back Better agenda.