In the past six months, congressional Republicans have illustrated just how little they consider the needs of the women and families they were elected to represent. Despite peddling a deeply unpopular repeal of the Affordable Care Act, a vast majority of Republicans in the House forced through a bill that would leave tens of millions without health coverage. Meanwhile, Senate Republicans came alarmingly close to passing an extreme and dangerous repeal plan doing the same, if not for the courage of three Republican Senators who put their constituents before partisanship.
From town halls in their districts to the halls of the Capitol itself, Americans have been organizing, protesting and holding their representatives accountable. But the only way to truly make change is at the ballot box. That’s why the 2018 election cycle is so critical — it’s how we can send a message to Washington.
Last week, EMILY’s List launched “On Notice” for the 2018 cycle, our largest-ever Republican opposition program. This list includes an initial 50 Republican incumbent members of Congress who have voted for legislation that is particularly cruel and damaging for women — and it goes far beyond this year’s health care votes.
There’s no other way to say it: These Republicans continue to support an agenda that undermines women and families. Instead of empowering their constituents, they are handicapping them by continuously voting to end Planned Parenthood funding and deny low-income patients access to essential health care. They have blocked workplace protections that would have clamped down on pay inequality and employment discrimination. They would cut coverage for maternity care and go back to the days when being a woman was a pre-existing condition.
At EMILY’s List, we believe that in order for women to be successful, we must have control over our own health care decisions. This is basic. Yet many of these members voted for a 20-week national abortion ban that would require rape victims to suffer through a cruel “waiting period” after deciding to get an abortion.
Enough is enough. We’re letting these legislators know that we have our sights set on flipping their seats.
These Republicans are already lashing out, hiding from their constituents when they aren’t having them dragged out of their offices. They’re nervous — and rightly so.
Women aren’t backing down or keeping quiet. In fact, it’s women who will flip the House and win back key Senate seats. Since November, EMILY’s List has heard from more than 16,000 women who are interested in running for office. These women are ready to make change, and our organization stands ready to support them.
EMILY’s List will continue to expand its work of recruiting, training, and funding the next generation of progressive women. These candidates and their supporters are fighting to take back our most critical institutions and public offices to work for voters. Above all, they’re fighting for the idea that the priorities of women and families should never come second to the desires of corporations and right-wing special interests. That’s a fight we’re ready to win.
This op ed originally appeared on Morning Consult, 8/10/17.