Press: NY and National Leaders Call on IDC to End Alliance With Republicans

The effort to unite a progressive majority in the NY state senate is gaining steam. As the 2017 New York state legislative session drew to a close without action on the urgent priorities in the Resistance Agenda, national leaders including Demos Action President Heather McGhee, SEIU 32BJ President Hector Figueroa, and NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue added their voices to others including Nancy PelosiKeith Ellison, and the entire NY Democratic House delegation in calling on IDC members to return and unite a progressive majority.

See a roundup of more recent press coverage:

“Women lose in phony Democrats’ game”
By Ilyse Hogue and Bill Lipton, NY Daily News, July 6, 2017

This stalemate threatens women across New York, whose financial well-being is directly tied to their ability to decide if, when and how to raise a family.

The situation also risks New York’s status as one of our nation’s leading laboratories for progressive ideas. As a state that opposed Donald Trump by 23 points and elected a majority of both legislative chambers to serve as Democrats, New York should be leading the resistance and crafting a positive vision for how to keep our country moving forward.

That’s why grass-roots Democrats across New York are saying “enough is enough” to the IDC. Members of NARAL Pro-Choice America and the Working Families Party are teaming up with progressives across the state to demand the IDC work with the Democratic conference to build a durable majority and set the agenda for the state Senate.

Even though the legislative session has ended for the year, the IDC is not off the hook. New Yorkers elected Democrats to stand up for the shared values that define their party. If the IDC won’t resist Trump’s dangerous agenda, we will find representatives who will.

“Sham New York ‘Democrats’ send sham Planned Parenthood mailer after blocking real repro rights bills”Daily Kos, July 5, 2017

“Planned Parenthood refutes mailer claiming it supports breakaway N.Y. Senate Democrats”NY Daily News, June 26, 2017

“Planned Parenthood Group Disavows IDC Mailer”State of Politics, June 26, 2017

“Planned Parenthood ups response to IDC mailers”Politico, June 29, 2017

“Carlucci and IDC fake Planned Parenthood support, and being Democrats”LoHud, July 3, 2017

“Peralta, IDC angers Planned Parenthood group and constituents in Jackson Heights”Times-Ledger, July 1, 2017

“National Dems talk IDC options for ’18”
Queens Chronicle, July 6, 2017

U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison told a crowd of 500 Democrats that he would prefer some IDC outreach — for now.

“I would like to try and bring them back into the fold — you catch more flies with honey than vinegar,” Ellison said, speaking at the Robert Ross Johnson Family Life Center. “If not, you have to give them primaries.

“Protesters to target IDC over inaction on climate bill”
Politco, June 29, 2017

Environmental activists will target members of the IDC on Thursday to protest the state Senate’s failure to act on a piece of climate legislation that supporters say would have been the most comprehensive in the nation.

“It’s the climate change movement coming out and saying ‘Look, we’re not going to wait around anymore,’ particularly with the Trump administration dismantling the EPA,” said Alex Beauchamp with Food and Water Watch and one of the leaders of a successful movement to ban fracking in New York State. “One of the things keeping any meaningful climate legislation from moving forward in Albany is [the IDC’s] alliance with Republicans … The lack of action all session in Albany has been really disgraceful, frankly. “

“State’s inaction on climate protection unconscionable”, Eddie Bautista, Albany Times-Union, July 5, 2017

“New York Is on the Verge of Major Climate Action—But Centrist Democrats Stand in the Way”In These Times, June 21, 2017

“Republicans and the IDC are blocking reforms that would amplify ordinary voters’ voices”
By Heather McGhee and Hector Figueroa, NY Daily News, June 11, 2017

Gov. Cuomo took an important step by declaring his determination to help take back the U.S. House of Representatives, but there’s far more he, and we, can do right here at home.

If the IDC joined together with the rest of the Democrats in the Senate, we’d have a fighting chance to show the rest of the country what small “d” democratic ideals look like. New York could encourage voting, rather than discourage it. We could make it easier for elected officials to represent voters, not do the bidding of special interests. And we could have a progressive government to boldly show what opposition looks like in the Trump era.

That can’t happen as long as some Democrats stand with Republicans.

It’s time for all progressive elected officials — all New York state senators who claim to be progressives — to unite so we can focus on resisting Trump, protecting our values and finally letting the voices of ordinary people be heard.

“National NARAL leader critical of NYS breakaway Senate Dems”
New York Daily News, June 19, 2017

Add NARAL Pro-Choice America to the list of national groups urging a breakaway group of eight state Senate Democrats to break its leadership coalition with the Republicans.

NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue accused the eight members of the Independent Democratic Conference, or IDC, of helping prop up “anti-choice Trump Republicans.”

“It’s time for the IDC to stand up for women and join their Democratic colleagues in working to protect our rights,” she said.

Hogue specifically pointed to bills that passed the Democrat-controlled Assembly to strengthen New York’s abortion laws and protect and enhance contraceptive coverage.

“New York women and families can’t wait any longer,” she said.

Activists in the last few days are said to have distributed leaflets in the districts of IDC members Tony Avella (D-Queens) and Jesse Hamilton (D-Brooklyn) accusing them of “working with the Republican Party and it’s hurting New York City women.”

“My IUD Helped Treat My Endometriosis. NY Lawmakers Want to Make Them Harder to Get”
By Danielle DeMatteo, Jezebel, June 21, 2017

The Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act (CCCA), which would require that all health insurance plans cover all federally-approved contraception with no co-pay, is being held up in our legislature by Republicans. The Reproductive Health Act (RHA), which would simply bring our New York State abortion laws up to code with the federal standard of Roe v. Wade, is in the same spot. But it’s not just Republicans holding it up—the “democrat” members of the IDC (Independent Democratic Conference), who often align with Republicans in the Senate despite running on Democratic platforms, refuse to bring these to the floor for a vote.

The IDC claims to have a progressive, pro-women agenda, but that is nothing more than a facade built to keep them in good standing with their voters while rubbing elbows with conservative colleagues. They are politicizing women’s bodies and using it as a tool to advance their own careers.

“Senators of IDC should help protect reproductive health”
By Heidi Sieck, Albany Times-Union, June 26, 2017

​With Republicans in Washington starting to roll back reproductive rights and repeal the Affordable Care Act, eliminating health insurance coverage — including contraceptive coverage — for millions, New York should be leading the resistance to the Trump agenda. A potential loss of contraception coverage or access to abortion care is a very real crisis for women and transgender people.

We must hold our elected officials accountable to protect reproductive freedom in New York. The eight IDC members have signed on as sponsors of these bills and claim they would like to see them passed into law. They claim to be strong supporters of women’s rights and reproductive health. Yet, in their duplicity, they empower the leaders of the Senate to bottle these bills up. Actions speak louder than words. By handing control over which bills get a vote to anti-choice Trump Republicans, the IDC is putting people’s lives at risk — the very people who voted for them in the first place.

The eight senators who ran as Democrats, asked people to vote for them as Democrats and took office as Democrats, need to join with Democrats to build a true pro-choice majority so that next year these essential laws can be enacted.

“National Progressives urge IDC to reunite with mainline Democrats in state Senate”Times Ledger, June 16, 2017

“Activists say IDC membership would hurt Peralta in Council run”Politico, June 19, 2017

“Jazz Funeral March to mourn the death of progressive legislation” in Albany:

“Rockland Democrats call on Carlucci to rejoin party”
LoHud, June 9, 2017

The Rockland County Democratic Committee has warned a state senator from New City: Rejoin the Democratic Conference in Albany or face a primary next time.

The Rockland committee pledged Thursday night at its annual convention to support only those candidates and incumbents who commit themselves to caucusing with mainline Democrats.

Although not explicitly named in the pledge, Democratic state Sen. David Carlucci has not caucused with Democrats since he joined the Independent Democratic Conference after it formed in 2011.

Carlucci is one of a coalition of eight rogue Democrats in Albany who have aligned with Republicans in a power-sharing move. …

“A majority of state senators are Democrats and they need to act like it, because in the era of Donald Trump all Democrats need to work together to stand up for the values we share,” she added.

“Albany just ended one of the least productive post-budget legislative sessions in memory”
WFP statement, June 27, 2017

“Healthcare for all. Criminal justice reform. Making New York a leader in fighting climate change. Protecting immigrant families. Strengthening our democracy. Critical fights to prevent offshoring of good jobs, protect workers’ rights, and lift up wages. New York’s working families are crying out urgently for Albany to fight back against the Trump agenda. Instead, Albany just ended one of the least productive post-budget legislative sessions in memory, one where the IDC-Republican alliance in the Senate couldn’t fulfill basic and essential responsibilities for day-to-day governance like extending mayoral control of public schools in New York City and investing in functional mass transit systems.”

“We reiterate our call for the governor and the IDC to actively support a progressive Senate immediately.”

“Nancy Pelosi Urges New York’s GOP-Aligned State Senate Dems to Return to the Party Fold”
Observer, June 7, 2017

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi became the latest national figure to urge nine rogue Democrats in Albany to coalesce again with their party peers—one day after the California lawmaker appeared at a rally in Manhattan with Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

“Given the high stakes, I join my New York Democratic congressional colleagues in urging all New York State Senate Democrats join the fight, and caucus and work together for New York’s working families,” Pelosi said in the statement, alluding to her visit yesterday.

“Pelosi Backs Dem Unification In Senate”, NY State of Politics, June 8, 2017

“WFP Seeks To Keep Up Pressure”
NY State of Politics, May 31, 2017

The Working Families Party is launching a new ad campaign online aimed at pushing the Independent Democratic Conference back to the mainline Democratic fold.

The labor-backed party has Facebook ads posting today, part of a broader effort aimed at pressuring the eight-member bloc as Democrats hold a numeric majority in the state Senate, but do not have the votes to form a governing coalition.

The ads urge supporters to sign a petition opposing the “outrageous alliance” between the IDC and the Senate Republicans.

“Mainline and Independent Democrats in the Senate Must Unite Behind a Resistance Agenda”
By NYC Public Advocate Letitia James, City & State, May 29, 2017

This may sound like a tall order, but these are basic progressive values; these are New York values. If we organize together and win a progressive majority in the state Senate, we can move on to debating how to implement these ideas, not whether we can do so. But we need all of New York’s Democrats to come together.

The stakes are high. This is the time to stand up and be counted. It starts with the IDC and mainline Democrats reuniting so New York can lead the resistance and live up to its reputation as the Empire State.

“Sanders’s Our Revolution Dives Into Senate Fight”
NY State of Politics, June 2, 2017

“If we are going to truly build a country that works for all people, progressive states like New York should be leading the way,” said Our Revolution Executive Director Shannon Jackson.

“That won’t happen as long as progressives are divided. Our Revolution calls on progressive legislators in the New York state senate to unite in a majority so that New York can pass Medicare for All and protect immigrant communities from Trump’s xenophobic agenda. New York legislators must show the entire country what a progressive vision for our looks like.”

“DNC bigwig Rep. Keith Ellison threatens rebel N.Y. state senators with ‘flyswatter’ for breaking ranks”
NY Daily News, June 10, 2017

“The IDC has to resolve,” Ellison said. “The IDC has to shut it down. The IDC has to stop. The IDC has to get back on the team or they can’t be a part of the team.”

Ellison said the issue is a national one in the face of President Trump and a Republican-controlled Congress. He said “the issue of the IDC is a danger to the nation.”

“Everything that you as a Democrat believe in is on the line right now,” he said, mentioning health care, the environment and worker’s rights.

“We cannot afford disunity at this point. We cannot afford to break ranks. And we sure as hell cannot afford this circular firing squad in the face of what I believe is an enemy force. We have got to hang together.”

“New York State Needs to Live Up to Its Progressive Reputation”Rewire, June 5, 2017

“Anger, Protests & Potential Bellwether in Democratic Senate Primary Already Underway”,
Gotham Gazette, June 2, 2017

“Preview: Education IDC Protest”
Politico, June 6, 2017

The Alliance for Quality Education, parents and community members today at Castle Bridge School in Manhattan will kick off a week-long set of events calling on the state Senate’s breakaway Independent Democratic Conference, which typically aligns with the Senate Republicans, to unite with the mainstream Democrats. AQE, a labor-backed advocacy group, is partnering with other state advocacy groups including the Working Families Party, Citizen Action and New York Communities for Change, hosting events in IDC members’ home districts, specifically pointing to school funding inequities that they say have continued under the IDC-Republican Coalition. The first event will take place in Manhattan targeting Sen. Marisol Alcantara.

“Foes of breakaway Democrats allege charter school ‘pay-to-play'”
Albany Times-Union, June 8, 2017

An new report from an education advocacy group accuses members of the state Senate’s eight-member Independent Democratic Conference of betraying traditional public schools in exchange for campaign donations from charter school supporters.

The report, “Pay to Play: Charters Schools and the IDC,” is being issued by the Albany-based Alliance for Quality Education, a nonprofit that receives some of its funding from teachers unions, which have warred with charter school supporters.

Since four members of the main Democratic conference broke away and formed the IDC in 2011, IDC senators or its campaign arm have received nearly $677,000 from affluent charter school supporters or their political action committees, the report states. The IDC has gradually expanded to eight members, and since 2012 has been allied with the chamber’s Republican conference in a “majority coalition.”

“Parents Blame State Sen. Alcantara for ‘Crumbs’ Given To Uptown Schools”DNAInfo, June 8, 2017

“Valesky takes issue with school advocacy group claim”Rome Sentinel, June 9, 2017

Video: “TYT’s Nomiki Konst sits down with Bill Lipton”
The Young Turks, June 1, 2017

TYT Politics Reporter Nomiki Konst sits down with Bill Lipton, New York State Director of the Working Families Party, to discuss the situation we face with the fight against the IDC (Independent Democratic Caucus), a group of politicians who were elected as democrats but caucus with the senate Republicans.

Audio: “Gov. Cuomo Takes Active Role in Taking Back the House for Democrats”
WAER, June 7, 2017

“We have this contradiction of the governor being out there fighting to take back the House, and we have the State Senate controlled by Trump Republicans,” said Lipton. “And he’s turned a blind eye to that.”

The state Senate is currently ruled by Republicans, with the help of several break away Democrats. Democrats have 32 seats, numerically enough to rule the chamber, but are divided into different feuding factions. There are the mainstream Democrats, the breakaway Independent Democratic Conference, and one lone Democratic Senator who conferences with the Republicans. Lipton says back in 2014, when the governor was seeking re election, Cuomo pledged, in exchange for the Working Families Party endorsement, that he would help elect more Democrats to the state Senate. Lipton says that promise was never fulfilled.

“The governor is not just the governor, he’s also the head of the New York State Democratic Party,” Lipton said. “The Democratic Party needs to rediscover a mission, a purpose.”

“Gillibrand’s office drops hammer on IDC”
The Alt, June 1, 2017

Last week, New York’s House delegation united to call on the Independent Democratic Conference to return to the Democratic fold and take control of that house away from Republicans. Ross Barkan of the Village Voice wrote today that while more Democrats have applied pressure to the IDC, Senator Chuck Schumer has remained silent–he has an aversion to the left branch of his party.

His friend, junior Senator from New York Kirsten Gillibrand, has been supportive of Senate Democrats and their leader Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins.

I asked her office today where she stands on the IDC and their alliance with Senate Republicans. Her office provided this quote from her senior advisor Glen Caplin.

“Senator Gillibrand believes it’s vital to have Democratic control of the State Senate and it should be led by the Democratic Majority that wants to get things done for New Yorkers, not a breakaway faction. The status quo is not just unacceptable, it’s wrong.”

Gillibrand has enjoyed an expanding celebrity thanks to her outspokenness against President Donald Trump and his appointees.

The IDC and its leader Sen. Jeff Klein have touted their ability to work with Republicans to secure a minimum wage increase, paid family leave and other legislation. Their many critics say they’ve stood in the way of truly progressive legislation and have empowered Republicans.

Democrats technically enjoy a 32-member majority in the Senate–but the IDC’s 8 members empower Republicans and Democratic Sen. Simcha Felder, who conferences with Republicans.

Video: “Road to City Hall: Progressive Push”
NY1, May 25, 2017

NY1 VIDEO: Bill Lipton from the Working Families Party sits down with Errol Louis to discuss two big special election wins, and to look ahead to the future.

Video: “Capital Tonight: WFP on Uniting Progressives”
Spectrum News Capital Region, May 24, 2017

At a time when Democrats across the country are focused on uniting to be the resistance to the Trump administration, here in New York, Democrats – in the state Senate at least – are busy fighting each out. Now, another party is getting involved to try to get the Democrats on track. Joining us from New York City to talk more about this is Bill Lipton with the Working Families Party.

Audio: “Capitol Pressroom: Bill Lipton”
WCNY, May 24, 2017

Bill Lipton, NY State Director of the Working Families Party, explained the party’s “resistance agenda” against the president’s policies and the call for unity between IDC and Senate Democrats.

Cynthia Nixon emails to WFP members: “NY Democrats need to stop acting like Republicans”
NY State of Politics, May 31, 2017

At the same time, actress Cynthia Nixon is getting in the mix, too, signing her name to an email from the WFP to supporters.

“Trump’s administration is an imminent threat to our communities, our children, our health, and our values,” she states in the email. “We can’t afford to wait one minute longer for Democrats to start acting like Democrats.”

May 24th #DemUnity Rallies at IDC Offices across NY: