WASHINGTON -- The Communications Workers of America labor union, a lead group in the Fix the Senate Now coalition, is launching an advertising campaign aimed at shaping the final stages of the filibuster reform debate.
The effort includes more than $300,000 in advertising, beginning with cable TV ads that will run throughout the week of Jan. 14. The 30-second spot, "The U.S. Senate Is Broken -- But We Can Fix It," calls on the Senate to eliminate the silent filibuster and implement "common sense" rules reforms.
"As climate change threatens the world we leave to our children, and good U.S. jobs move overseas, time in the Senate ticks by," a narrator says in the ad. “As women earn less than men for the same jobs, time in the Senate ticks by. It keeps ticking by with no results, because the system is broken."
The ad will also air during the Jan. 20 Sunday talk show circuit between morning broadcasts of ABC's "This Week," CBS's "Face the Nation," and NBC's "Meet the Press."
The rest of the CWA campaign will escalate online advertising to support Senate rules reform. Beginning on Jan. 17, the labor union will run online ads that will employ an interactive tool to highlight how the silent filibuster may block issues such as immigration reform, climate change and job creation. The ads will culminate in an online petition, a sample of which can be seen here.
A source familiar with the campaign said the CWA also plans action in certain targeted states. The union says it has more than 700,000 members and is among more than 50 organizations that make up the Fix the Senate Now coalition, which endorses the filibuster reform proposal introduced by Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.).
The Merkley-Udall plan still allows the filibuster of legislation, but would require members to do so by actually standing and speaking on the floor. On the other side of the debate is a scaled-back bipartisan plan introduced by Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), which leaves the silent filibuster in place, but would allow amendments to be adopted by a simple majority vote.
Shane Larson, a lobbyist with the CWA, recently told The Huffington Post that he and his allies are concerned with the amendment provision under the McCain-Levin counterproposal.
"We think it is one of several major flaws in the Levin proposal, but it by far is the one that gives the most away to the Republicans, politically, than it would gain for functionality of the Senate," Larson said. "If Senator Levin and Republicans support allowing amendments to clear with 51 votes, they should then be in favor of all legislation passing with 51 votes."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has reiterated his commitment to passing filibuster reform and extended the first legislative day of the new Congress in order to maintain his ability to reform the Senate’s filibuster rules later this month. Reid has been negotiating with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on rules reform without resorting to the constitutional option. But Merkley and Udall have tried to keep momentum on their side by stating that they would have the 51 votes necessary to pass reform in the absence of an agreement, using what opponents call the "nuclear option."
The two senators even issued a petition of their own on Monday, along with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and the Daily Kos community, to drum up support for their proposal and maintain pressure on ending the silent filibuster.
A HuffPost/YouGov poll conducted in late November found that 65 percent of those polled believe senators should have to participate in debate for the duration of a filibuster, while only 9 percent said that senators should be able to filibuster without being physically present.