The people, at the ballot box, in the halls of Capitol Hill and in the streets, have demanded that Congress act on the Iraq war, the minimum wage and other pressing issues. Just this week, Democrats in the Senate fought to debate Bush’s call to increase troops in Iraq, but their razor-thin majority was not enough to enact the people’s will in the face of Republican back-stabbing, stonewalling and back-room arm-twisting reminiscent of their notorious Dixiecrat predecessors.

In the first 100 hours, House Democrats made good on their promise and passed a minimum wage increase, a “clean” bill, no strings attached. But in the Senate, Republicans obscenely insisted on tying it to business tax breaks, stalling the first raise the lowest paid workers in the country would have had in 10 years. Evidently these senators and their president believe that low-income families surviving on a little more than $10,000 a year is the natural law of the land, and holding these families hostage to favors to business is just good ol’ politics.

This same Republican/Bush ploy lied and twisted its way to stall debate on a resolution opposing Iraq escalation. Loyal Virginia Republican John Warner helped block the bipartisan resolution he helped write. But despite the best efforts of the White House and right-wing schemers, four years of Senate silence on the Iraq war are coming to an end.

The U.S. Senate for decades was a bastion of reaction. Diehard segregationists like South Carolina Sen. Strom Thurmond jammed up civil rights legislation for years saying, “All the laws in Washington and all the bayonets of the army cannot force … the southern people to break down segregation and admit the Negro race into our theaters, into our swimming pools, into our homes and into our churches.” But the civil rights movement, with broad, mass street heat, patience and thoughtful political savvy, prevailed, not the Dixiecrats.

We are confident that today’s Senate Republican schemers and stallers will go the way of the Dixiecrats and McCarthyites.

The fight for a people’s agenda is on — on Capitol Hill and on Main Street.

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