Wages on the Ballot in Battleground States—Plus, Cites With Cease-Fire Resolutions

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Jon Wiener: From The Nation magazine, this is Start Making Sense. I’m Jon Wiener.  Later in the show: 100 American cities and towns have formally called for a ceasefire in Gaza–John Nichols has that report. But first: minimum wage initiatives on the ballot in battleground states could mobilize potential Democratic voters who are un-enthusiastic about Biden: That’s coming up – in a minute.
[BREAK]
In an election where many people are not excited about reelecting Joe Biden, they need other things to be enthusiastic about that will bring them to the polls in November. Democrats know that ballot initiatives protecting abortion rights is one of those things. Another is initiatives raising the minimum wage. So organizers are working right now to qualify minimum wage initiatives for the ballot in the crucial states of Arizona and Ohio, and they’ve already qualified one in Michigan. For that, we turn to Saru Jayaraman. She’s the co-founder and president of the organization, One Fair Wage, and the director of the Food Labor Research Center at UC Berkeley. She appears regularly on media outlets like MSNBC and CNN, and with Bill Maher on HBO. She’s the author of five books on low wage worker issues most recently, One Fair Wage: Ending Subminimum Pay in America. Saru, welcome to the program.

Saru Jayaraman: Thank you so much for having me.

JW: We’re told by pollsters that young people of color are not enthusiastic about voting for Joe Biden. What are the big issues for them?

SJ: There was two huge polls done, national polls recently, one of youth voters and one of Latinx voters, and both of them had the rising cost of living and jobs with living wages as the absolute top issues. It’s so important to recognize that because sometimes it feels like you see Democrats focused on other issues, but it’s important to listen to what young people and people of color are saying is the top thing. Coming out of the pandemic, the rising cost of living never dissipated for them. It’s an ongoing issue where people are genuinely struggling to pay rent, to pay food and pay bills, and of course there are things to do to curb costs or maintain costs, but the number one thing we have to do is make sure people have the wages to be able to afford things in the marketplace.

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JW: Please remind us, what is the national minimum wage set by Congress right now?

SJ: It is a horrific $7.25 for most workers, and an even more horrific $2.13 an hour for tipped restaurant workers.

JW: Explain about this tipped wage thing. Where does this come from?

SJ: Unfortunately, it’s a direct legacy of slavery. So prior to emancipation, waiters in the U.S. were mostly white men and they got actual wages, no tips. Tipping was not prevalent in the 1850s. But in 1853 they went on strike for higher wages, and of course the restaurants didn’t like that and so they started looking for cheaper labor. So after emancipation, the restaurants hit upon the idea of hiring newly freed Black people. It wasn’t actually just the restaurant industries, restaurants and a company called the Pullman Train Company, Pullman Train Company hiring Black men, restaurants hiring Black women, both telling Black workers newly freed Black workers, “We’re not going to pay you. You’re going to live on this wonderful thing called tips.”
The Pullman car porters, as you probably know, organized the first Black union in the United States and won the right to one fair wage, a full minimum wage with tips on top, whereas the tipped workers in the restaurant industry who are mostly Black women never got that. In fact, the National Restaurant Association was founded in response to the Pullman car porters organizing to ensure that the Black women, the women in the restaurant industry never got a full wage and they haven’t to this day.

JW: We think of restaurants as the place where people live on tips, but they’re not the only ones.

SJ: That’s right. This horrific problem has spread. For the last 100 years, it’s been mostly restaurants, but also nail salon, car wash, hair salon, parking attendants, wheelchair attendants in the airport who push the wheelchairs. All of them can be paid a subminimum wage because they receive tips. But that has grown so dramatically post-pandemic. We’re now seeing tipflation across the economy. We’re seeing tipping in retail environments and kiosks in airports. We may not even see a human. It’s because as so many low wage industries are struggling to find workers, they’re looking to emulate the restaurant industry.
Rather than raise wages to where workers really need them, they want the same boondoggle that the Restaurant Association has had for the last hundred years, just make sure they get tips, and then legally per federal law, if they get $30 a month in tips, they can be paid a subminimum wage, which is ridiculous. So as long as we allow the subminimum wage for the restaurant industry, every other industry is going to want to introduce tipping.

JW: What we want to do about this, what you have dedicated the last couple of decades to, is eliminating subminimum wages for tipped workers – by including them in the minimum wage laws. That’s something legislatures can do and that’s also something voters can also do, through initiatives on the ballot. How have initiatives to raise the minimum wage done in previous elections?

SJ: There’s been almost never a minimum wage initiative that has failed on the ballot in red or in blue states.

JW: I think there was one in 1992 or something like that. 

SJ: And there was another one that happened recently in Portland, Maine. But for the most part, statewide initiatives have almost never failed. Red states, blue states, and it’s because most people in America agree. When you work a job, you should be paid a full livable minimum wage from your boss enough to allow you to not have to be on public assistance, enough to allow you to feed your children and not work three jobs to survive. So it has passed, not just passed, but in Florida, in 2020, more people voted for $15 than either Trump or Biden. It is so popular.

JW: 61% voted for a higher minimum wage in Florida in 2020.

SJ: That’s right. People always ask me, “Well, then how do we know it helps Democrats because Biden lost Florida?” Well, in the case of Florida, the Florida Democratic Party specifically chose to not associate itself, it actually intentionally chose not to associate itself with the $15 minimum wage. Whereas in Ohio, in January, the Ohio Democratic Party already voted to endorse our initiative for November. Why? Because they know this is going to be a critical turnout mechanism for young people and people of color — for Senator Sherrod Brown.

JW: So the people we’re talking about here, the political scientists called low propensity voters. 

SJ: That’s right.

JW: What is your estimate of how many low propensity voters could be mobilized to vote for a higher minimum wage this November?

SJ: Well, nationally, if the president and vice president made this a top issue of their campaign as they did in 2020, there are 32 million Americans who earn less than $15 an hour who could potentially in a dream world get motivated because they see the top of the ticket running on the issue in a real way. What’s a real way? It’s not just saying, “We’re going to do this.” It’s saying, “We pushed for this this year, help us get reelected to get the job done. We know we didn’t finish the job, help us get reelected to get the job done.”
So it could be up to 32 million Americans, but just in the four states where we have it on the ballot this fall, that’s Ohio, Michigan, Arizona, key battleground states, and Massachusetts, that’s 3.5 million workers who will get a raise, and of that, a very conservative estimate of 350,000 new voters who will turn out for Democrats if we have it on the ballot and folks in those states run on the issue.

JW: I think 350,000 is more than Biden’s margin in Arizona, and in Georgia, and in Wisconsin.

SJ: Oh my gosh, yes. You’re talking about 10 times the amount of votes needed in some of these really very close states. As you said at the beginning, in states where like Michigan and Arizona, young people are absolutely not motivated to vote this year for these candidates.

JW: One Fair Wage is working to qualify minimum wage initiatives you’ve said in crucial battleground states. Let’s start with Arizona. I looked up the minimum wage in Arizona right now is $14.35. What is the initiative proposing?

SJ: In Arizona, our initiative is actually to raise the wage to $18.

JW: Where did this number 18 come from?

SJ: Senator Ruben, excuse me, Congress member Ruben Gallego, who is running for Senate, said to us last year, “15 is not enough for Arizona. You have to do 18.” So we tested it, and lo and behold, people in Arizona said, “Of course. Of course, we need to raise the wage to at least $18 an hour.” So we have 18 and ending the subminimum wage for tipped workers on the ballot in Arizona for this November.

JW: Now, I just saw this morning that Republicans are planning to put a counter initiative on the ballot in Arizona. They’re calling it the Tipped Worker Protection Act, and this would let businesses pay employees who work for tips 25% less than the minimum wage. Let’s talk about the backlash.

SJ: The Restaurant Association, as I mentioned, has been around since 1919. We call it the other NRA, the National Restaurant Association is the NRA that is honestly just as horrible and evil that people haven’t heard about as the Rifle Association. Incredibly powerful, sadly even with Democrats in many states, which is why we have to put things on the ballot because we can’t get it done even with Democratic legislatures in many states. So they’ve been fighting for 100 years claiming that they shouldn’t have to pay their workers’ wages because customers pay their workers’ wages in tips.
Well, in 2016, they actually hired the communications firm of the Trump-Pence campaign, Mercury PR, because they were so impressed with how Trump managed to basically brainwash or somehow shift the minds of working-class voters to think that somehow he was in their best interest. They hired the Trump-Pence communications firm, and they started a PAC called Save Our Tips, where they went around the country telling workers your tips are going to go away if your wages go up, which is completely contrary to all the evidence of the last 100 years. For the states that have had a full minimum wage with tips on top, they actually have the same or higher tipping averages as the 43 states with a subminimum wage. 
For example, in the last quarter, California, which has had a same wage, one fair wage for 50 years, California was ranked as the highest tipping average state of any state in the U.S. Alaska has continuously consistently been at the top of the list. So this idea that your tips are going to go away if your wages go up is something entirely fabricated by the Restaurant Association to get workers to fight their own wage increases. That is the same framework of this ballot measure. They’re trying to say if they put an initiative on the ballot, that would reduce workers’ wages and they’re going to claim, “Oh, that’s better for you to get more tips.” We’re going to see as a test between do people generally want to raise the minimum wage or people generally want to reduce the minimum wage based on the misinformation that somehow your tips will go away if your wages go up.

JW: That’s Arizona. You’ve qualified already minimum wage initiative in Michigan. The recent history of minimum wage initiatives in Michigan is pretty interesting.

SJ: Yeah. 2018, we actually collected enough signatures, 400,000 signatures, to put one fair wage on the ballot, one fair wage meaning a $12 minimum wage and ending the subminimum wage for tipped workers, workers with disabilities and youth on the November 2018 ballot. That was the year Governor Whitmer was up for election and the Republicans knew they were going to lose the governorship and maybe even several of the legislature seats. So what they did is they announced to the press.
They understood something, Jon, that I sometimes struggle because some Democrats don’t seem to understand it, but the Republicans understood how popular this initiative was, and they told the press, “We are worried that this initiative will drive the wrong people to vote,” wrong people meaning young people, people of color, women of color, we’re going to take it off the ballot, make it the law, and then reverse it after the election. So the Republican led legislature actually raised the wage from $3, which it is right now in Michigan, to $12 an hour and then reversed it back down to $3 after the election. So in response, we filed a lawsuit, and any day now, the Michigan Supreme Court, which is now actually mostly Democrats, is going to rule on whether what they did back in 2018 was constitutional or not.
We believe strongly they’re going to rule it unconstitutional, which will make $12 and ending subminimum wages the law of the land. So Michigan is going to beat all these other states, New York, Illinois, Connecticut in ending the subminimum wage for tipped workers. It’s going to become, I think in the next month, not only the eighth state in the union to end the subminimum wage for tipped workers, not only the first state in 40 years to do so, but the first example in U.S. history of an attempt at Republican voter suppression leading to a minimum wage increase. [Laughter]

JW: We are laughing. We are laughing with happiness.  

SJ: Yes, exactly.

JW: Tell us about your history and the organization, One Fair Wage, how did you get into this work?

SJ: Yeah, so I started after 9/11. I was a recent graduate from law school, graduate school, and I was working at an immigrant worker organizing center when I got a phone call from the union that was inside Windows on the World, which was the restaurant at the top of the World Trade Center Tower One in New York City. They asked if I would start a relief center for the workers who had lost their jobs and the families of the victims. What started as a relief center grew into a national organization fighting to raise wages and end subminimum wages across the country. We started with workers in New York, but everywhere we went and surveyed workers, workers would say, “It’s my wages, it’s my wages, it’s my wages.”
When you understand that the restaurant industry is the lowest paying industry in the U.S. and has been since emancipation, then it makes sense why workers keep talking about their wages as their top concern. Can I say one more thing? I just feel like sometimes in our world, our world meaning the world of professionals or elites or academics, we aren’t experiencing the struggle that most Americans are experiencing right now, and it has gotten extremely acute. Every state is experiencing an affordability crisis right now. The level of unhoused has dramatically increased in every major city in the United States. People are leaving major cities because they just can’t afford to live in major cities. People are leaving the restaurant industry because they can’t afford to work in the restaurant industry.
But just as an example of how severe it’s gotten, I live in the Bay Area, we know restaurant workers who work in San Francisco but live an hour and a half east in Tracy or Stockton. They live in their car during their week in order to work in a restaurant in San Francisco because these are working people, working people who are facing home insecurity because they can’t afford to live anywhere near where they work. We’re hearing those same stories across the country. We are experiencing an extreme affordability crisis right now. One half of the equation is certainly rent, looking at rent control, looking at other things we can do to manage people’s costs. But we cannot ignore what people are saying. The people are saying, “I just need to be paid more. I need to be paid enough to cover the cost of living.”

JW: You not only work to qualify these initiatives for the ballot and then the campaign for them. You have done a lot of work on what’s the best way to organize. Three things I’d like you to explain: Paying your organizers instead of relying on volunteers, peer to peer organizing, and issue-based organizing.

SJ: Yes. So yes, I’ll start with issue-based voter engagement. I’m calling it “IBVE.” It’s a new word we’re coming up with.

JW: Okay, okay.

SJ: But I got to say it just makes so much sense to every person I’ve talked to on the ground, which is that as you started this conversation with people are not that thrilled about the candidates. It’s not like they’re turning out in droves for the candidates this cycle. What is motivating people to vote or not vote and vote for X or Y are issues. It is issues that are most important, whether it’s abortion or earning enough to feed your family. It is issues. So we call it issue-based voter engagement because we find it is so much more effective to walk up to a young person and rather than asking them, “Hey, are you registered to vote?” and they walk away from you, you say, “Hey, do you want to sign my petition for $15 an hour?” They say, “Of course I want to sign. Where do I sign?” You say, “I’m so sorry, you can’t sign unless you’re a registered voter,” and then you stand right there and you register them to vote.
It’s more effective, it’s faster and it’s easier, and it’s 20 times better if it’s that person asking the question is a fellow low wage worker. So in these states, we have hired hundreds, literally hundreds of service workers and other low wage workers. We’re paying them a livable wage of $25 an hour. Rather than hiring an outside firm, we find that doing it ourselves, we can do it for a third of the cost. They’re charging 15 to 17 a signature. We’re doing it for $4.50, paying a livable wage to service workers, in-state service workers. Those folks who are running that program, those hundreds of workers are going to be the leaders of exactly what you described, a peer-to-peer voter program.
Because here’s what we know to be the three keys to our success. One, the issue. The issue is so crazy popular right now. Two, that it’s led by workers themselves telling their fellow workers in a peer-to-peer format, “Hey, let’s all go vote ourselves a raise, and while we’re at the ballot voting ourselves a raise, we should think about these people who actually stood for our raise.” Three, if it’s issue-based and it’s peer to peer, and then third, if you’re actually registering new voters, if you’re getting new people out through this mechanism, you’re going to have a much bigger electorate that will turn out in November.

JW: There’s one more thing that really helps: if the candidates run on this issue.

SJ: Exactly. That’s a no-brainer. I will say that we are seeing some candidates already understand that. Senator Sherrod Brown has run on this issue. He actually, I don’t know if people know, but he came into office on a minimum wage ballot in 2006.

JW: I didn’t know that.

SJ: That was the last time the minimum wage went up in Ohio, 2006. So he’s running again on the next time it goes up, which is 2024. We’re seeing Congress members who’ve already endorsed it like Greg Landsman in Cincinnati. We’re seeing candidates already endorsing it. I do think very soon you’re going to see President Biden and Kamala Harris out on the road talking about this issue.

JW: If people want to know more about One Fair Wage, if they want to support the initiative campaigns underway right now in Ohio, Michigan, and Arizona, what can they do?

SJ: We would really appreciate it if they would go to onefairwage.org, and donate and/or get involved. Let us know if you want to volunteer. Let us know if you want to get engaged in a particular way. You can email us at [email protected] and we’ll be happy to kind of immediately engage and get you involved.

JW: Saru Jayaraman: she’s the co-founder and president of the organization One Fair Wage, online at onefairwage.org. Saru, thank you for all your work – and thanks for talking with us today.

SJ: Oh, thank you so much.
[BREAK]

Jon Wiener: There’s growing evidence of opposition to America’s support for Israel in its war against the Palestinians in Gaza. 100 American cities and towns have formally called for a ceasefire in Gaza. For that story, we turn to John Nichols. Of course, he’s national affairs correspondent for The Nation, an author of many books, most recently, It’s OK to Be Angry About Capitalism, co-authored by Bernie Sanders. We reached him today at home in Madison. John, welcome back.

John Nichols: Good to be with you, my friend.

JW: We know about the votes for uncommitted in Democratic presidential primaries as a way people in several states have been organizing against the war, and we know about some members of Congress who’ve been calling on Joe Biden to try to stop the war, but I did not know how widespread support for a ceasefire was in city councils across the country until I read your report at thenation.com. Where are the big ones and what are some of the others?

JN: Well, first off, I’m glad you’re reading The Nation, Jon.

JW: [Laughter]  Okay!

JN: You’re right to frame it the way you did because I think there’s been a great deal of attention to mass demonstrations against U.S. policy. It’s been a reasonable amount of attention to the uncommitted or uninstructed votes around the country, which, by the way, is continuing to grow. But to give you an example, as of now, probably about a half-million people have voted uncommitted or uninstructed in primaries. If you add up the populations of the cities around the country that have endorsed a ceasefire and often gone even further to say that we should put restrictions on U.S. aid to Israel or even cut that aid all together, if you add that all up, you’re getting into the tens of millions. So this is a very, very big statement. Chicago is the biggest city that has done so far, Atlanta has done so. Minneapolis and St. Paul, which I know excites you very much –

JW: Thank you.

JN: –as a native Minnesotan.  But also San Francisco and lots of other big cities around the country, major cities. In Ohio, a whole bunch of them have done so, Toledo, Akron, others, and then you have medium-sized cities around the country, quite a few of them, a lot of college towns. It’s not overly surprising. My town of Madison, Wisconsin has one. My county of Dane County has one. Just last week in Milwaukee County in Wisconsin did it, and so those are the bigger ones. We also note that there’s a lot of small towns that have done it, some rural places. 11 Vermont town meetings did so and many other small and relatively rural towns across the country.
It’s in every region of the country, rural, suburban, urban, and it is, yes, certainly in some places like Dearborn and Hamtramck where you have very large Muslim American populations. In towns in northern New Jersey where you have some of the proportionally largest Palestinian American populations, that’s not at all surprising. Of course, you’d see that. But what’s significant is you’re also seeing it in places that have extremely small Muslim populations. In some places that have very substantial Jewish population, something big is being said. From across America, people are saying that they want a ceasefire.

JW: I want to look in particular at Sacramento as a typical midsize city that has passed the ceasefire resolution. What exactly does theirs say? Is it just, “Give peace a chance?”

JN: No, it’s much more detailed than that, and it’s notable that it was brought together by a coalition of Jewish, Muslim, Christian, non-religious folks. But what they came up with was calling for an immediate and permanent bilateral ceasefire, and that’s to end the violence. So first off, that’s that baseline. You see that in almost all the resolutions. Then they called for an immediate unconditional release of Israeli hostages. They also called for an immediate unconditional release of all Palestinians held without charge or without trial in Israeli prisons. They called for something, and I’m going to quote it here, “Recognition that this conflict will not be solved militarily, rather, it will be resolved diplomatically when wise, courageous and visionary leaders on both sides replace the current leaders in charge today.” Finally, they specifically called for action by the Biden Administration to supercharge humanitarian aid to Gaza and work on the rebuilding of Gaza. So that is, as you suggest, Jon, a relatively typical resolution. The only thing that you see in some other resolutions is more specific demands for an end to U.S. aid to Israel.

JW: Now, Sacramento, I learned from your piece at thenation.com has a mayor who is Jewish.

JN: Yes.

JW: Darrell Steinberg. What did he say about all this?

JN: He was very active. He was very upfront. He introduced the resolution, and he did so at a press conference with a mix of rabbis and imams and canters and activists. I don’t know the guy per se. I’ve covered him a little bit over the years, but I think it’s safe to say he’s a good politician, right? He had a real coalition there, and he acknowledged upfront that not everybody was satisfied, that some people wanted more, and some wanted less. So it had this dual purpose. One to send a message to the White House, of course, that’s first and foremost, and to Congress, but also to frankly bring people together on the ground in Sacramento and try and get them working together around some basic premises.

JW: Well, now it’s time for your Minnesota moment. That’s news from my hometown of St. Paul that you won’t get from Sean Hannity. What’s the word from St. Paul?

JN: Well, St. Paul is very big for ceasefire. They cast a unanimous vote for ceasefire. That’s not overly surprising because the Minneapolis/St. Paul area is an area very diverse religiously, ethnically, a lot of immigrants there as well, and so it’s a place where these issues are front and center. What’s notable is that the Congresswoman from St. Paul, Betty McCallum came out and said, “This is a really big deal. This matters to me. I’m watching my community take this stand, and I value that because I’m standing up in Congress,” and she’s a supporter of ceasefire, “and it’s important to have this connection.”

JW: Minneapolis also passed a resolution. Theirs, just across the Mississippi River called not only for ceasefire and the release of hostages and prisoners, Minneapolis is one of the places that called for stopping U.S. military funding to Israel. The mayor who is Jewish, Jacob Frey, vetoed it apparently because of that last clause, but the city council overrode his veto. The vote was 9-3, so this was much more contentious than St. Paul. The mayor said he was concerned about rising anti-Semitism in Minneapolis and beyond. What’s your response to that concern?

JN: Well, I think rising anti-Semitism anywhere is a concern, and it’s something that we should be very conscious of as we should be of rising Islamophobia in this country. Many of these resolutions across the country have not merely spoken about the need for ceasefire, but also addressed anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, and so many communities have tried to sort that through. What’s important to understand is that in Minneapolis, while you did have this veto, you also had a lot of people in the Minneapolis Jewish community who were advocating for the ceasefire resolution. But at the heart of all this is an attempt, I think, by people at the local level, at the municipal level, to find that common ground, to build those coalitions, to try and come to a place where you can say, make a statement about foreign policy, but do so in a way that people can be relatively united on. Doesn’t always work, but it doesn’t in a lot of places.

JW: Great example of that from another city in Minnesota, a smaller one: Moorhead, Minnesota, which is right across the state border from Fargo, North Dakota. They passed a resolution, which included a statement that the city stands, quote, “firmly against the rise of, and all acts of violence and hate crimes perpetrated against our Jewish, Muslim, Palestinian and Arab constituents here in Moorhead and around the United States,” close quote. Moorhead, Minnesota: great example.

JN: What’s remarkable is how strong many of these Jewish Muslim coalitions have become in many of these communities where people really know each other and they’re working together. I think you have seen a lot of that in Chicago as an example. Chicago had a very contentious debate, and make no mistake, there were people who opposed the Chicago resolution. There were people from some communities that thought it didn’t go far enough, some that thought it went way too far. But at the heart of it, there was a coalition of folks from Jewish Voice for Peace, If Not Now, a whole bunch of Muslim American groups in the community. They came together and when they ended up with a tie vote in the city council, the mayor, the new mayor, great progressive in that city, Brandon Johnson cast the tie breaking vote in favor of ceasefire.

JW: We’ve been talking here about cities and towns. Now, one state legislature, the first has passed the ceasefire resolution, Hawaii. The vote there was 24-1 in the state Senate. What do you know about Hawaii politics?

JN: There’s a lot of people in Hawaii with a deep consciousness of what happens to Indigenous peoples. What happens when you have outside forces playing on all sides of a political fight. It’s very interesting that in Hawaii you have had two major signs of some of the higher level of support for ceasefire in the United States. In their Democratic primary, almost 30% of people voted for uncommitted, and I think seven delegates from Hawaii will go to the Democratic National Convention as uncommitted because of a Gaza-related campaign there.
Now you’ve had the state Senate there cast this overwhelming vote for ceasefire. I think that it’s a reminder, as you look around the country, you find places that are supportive of ceasefire that might surprise you. Might not be in your first blush, might not be the place you thought would be strong on that issue, but because of history as well as contemporary activism, they are. I’ll remind you as we look on the global stage, there’s some people who are surprised that Ireland is so profoundly committed to ceasefire in Gaza and to resolving the crisis there. Then you look back at Ireland’s history and things start to come into perspective.

JW: Great example. The big question is, how much have these municipal ceasefire resolutions affected members of Congress? How many members of the House at this point have called for a ceasefire?

JN: Well, there’s a lot that have called for ceasefire. I’ll be honest with you. I think that there is a core group that called before a lot of the municipal resolution started, so give them respect for stepping up early, people like Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib.

JW: Rashida Tlaib.

JN: But yes, the numbers have grown. There’s now about 80 in the House. The group Win Without War has been keeping a good calculation of it or keeping a good list. There’s a number of senators that have stood up now as well.

JW: I think it’s eight senators have called on Biden to offer Israel an ultimatum, either expand aid to Gaza or lose U.S. military assistance. They’re led by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, Hawaii’s Mazie Hirono, Minnesota’s Tina Smith, Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, not very many senators.

JN: No, and when they actually had a chance to vote on it, which is a little different than writing a letter, when you actually voted on it, Sanders had an amendment he was trying to move on this, and I think he got – essentially, there were two other people who voted with him. That was Jeff Merkley, who you mentioned, and then Senator Peter Welch, also from Vermont. So look, there’s a lot of ground that has to be made up in Congress. What’s really notable is, and one of the reasons I wrote about this, is that as you look around the country, what you see is that this ceasefire movement is big and it’s growing and there’s tremendous level of support for it.
When you get up to Capitol Hill, you still see an awfully lot of leaders in Congress, a lot of powerful players in Congress who just refuse to sign on or refuse even to listen at times. This is one of the challenges, and I think that’s why the municipal ceasefire movement keeps going. One of the interesting things that they’ve done is that we’re now seeing resolutions in some places, which specifically address their member of Congress and say, “We would like to see all members of Congress by name step up on this issue.”

JW: It’s big and it’s growing. John Nichols wrote about city councils passing ceasefire resolutions for thenation.com. John, thanks for talking with us today.

JN: It’s a great pleasure to be with you, Jon.

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