Take Action

TODAY’S DAILY ACTION (12-5-2017)

The tax bill goes back to the House this week, where our representatives must either pass the Senate’s version, or observe regular order and negotiate the differences.  The latter action is preferable since it means more thought and time is taken on legislation which affects all of us.  Here are some actions you can take if you are concerned about the rush to pass a bill no one is quite sure of.

Call every House Representative (look up).  Remind them that they’re all up for re-election every two years.  Insist that they not vote to adopt the Senate version of the tax bill but send it to committee for major improvements, including and especially keeping the Healthcare mandate in place, which the House version already does. (Text of following scripts from Americans of Conscience.)

Possible Script for Red Reps: Hi. I’m a [Republican] constituent calling to strongly oppose the Republican tax plan which hurts low- and average-income Americans while helping the richest. Not only is it ill-conceived, I am angry that my tax dollar is paying for Rep. [name] to cater to his/her donors while shirking his/her obligation to observe regular order. S/he needs to show respect for the taxpayers who fund his/her salary. My future vote depends on Rep. [name] voting against this slapdash bill and returning to regular order.

Possible Script for Blue Reps: Hi. I’m calling from [ZIP], and already know that Rep. [name] opposes the Republican tax plan–as do I. However, I am angry that my tax dollar is paying for Rep. [name]’s salary in Congress while s/he is tolerating Republicans’ refusal to observe regular order. I will count on Rep. [name]’s vote against this inhumane bill. However, I also want Democrats to stop being doormats and get a spine. What will Rep. [name] do to restore regular order in Congress?

Call all Senators’ offices (2 per state) and either (a) thank them for voting no on the Tax bill and encourage them to do everything in their power to push for improvements in the committee OR (b) tell them you consider it to be utterly irresponsible to vote for a bill that hasn’t even been read yet, that you are not happy with the substance of the bill, and that you insist that the bill be thoroughly read, analyzed, and improved upon in committee with the House. Specifically insist that the Senator not vote for the final bill if it removes the Healthcare individual mandate.

More details from 5CALLS:
“Around 2am on December 2nd, the Senate voted 51-49 to pass H.R. 1, the Republicans’ sweeping, multi-trillion dollar tax bill. Bob Corker (R-TN) was the only GOP Senator to vote No, citing the bill’s massive and consistently-reported $1.4 trillion deficit increase as a dealbreaker. In a major break of procedural norms, Senate GOP leadership waited until only a few hours of floor debate remained to unveil the final text of the bill (479 pages, filled with illegible notes and changes written by lobbyists), preventing Senators, nonpartisan analysts, and the American public from understanding the bill’s widespread effects before the vote took place.

“The House and Senate have now each passed differing versions of H.R. 1, setting up two potential paths forward for the bill. Either the House will simply vote to pass the Senate’s version, or the two chambers will agree to go to Conference Committee where an identical compromise bill will be agreed upon and sent back to each chamber for another full member floor vote. While the former path leaves little room for change, a Conference Committee creates a window for the bill to be derailed. The chambers may struggle to reconcile differences — ACA individual mandate repeal, child tax credit, estate tax, etc. — or other previously agreed upon caveats may fail in the interim. For example, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), voted for the Senate bill under the condition that two ACA-protecting bills pass first, but the House has offered no guarantees that they will pass either of them.”

HT: 5CALLS and Americans of Conscience

TIPS FOR EFFECTIVE ACTION:

Get Up Close and Personal

Face-to-face is the best way to be heard.

  • Set up meetings at local or even national offices with officials or staff
  • Attend town hall meetings
  • Come prepared with specific questions
  • Push for straight answers while always remaining civil

Grab Your Phone and Call

Since in-person meetings aren’t always possible, call your senators and representatives often, even daily when needed. Calls are what your congressmen and congresswomen pay attention to most. (With letters/postcards and emails/online petitions coming in at second and third, respectively.) Every day, the senior staff and senator/representative get a report of the three most-called-about topics for the day at each office and how many people said what about each topic.

Some calling guidelines:

  • First and foremost, be courteous, respectful, and direct.
  • Make 6 calls a day when you can, calling both local and DC offices of your two senators and one representative. o If you don’t know them, you can find the numbers online or text your zip code to 520-200-2223 for federal and state representative contact information and save the numbers to your phone.
  • Give your zip code, even if they don’t ask for it, because that is how the information is sorted.
  • When calling the DC office, ask for the staff member in charge of whatever you’re calling about (immigration, or education, or health care). If you get transferred to them, great. If you don’t, talk to the person who answered the phone.
  • Leaving a message is not as effective as talking to a person. Keep trying to get through.
  • Try to make it personal. “I voted for you in the last election and I’m worried/happy/etc.” or “I’m a teacher and I’m concerned about…” or whatever your story may be.
  • Pick 1-2 specific things per day to focus on. They’re figuring out what 1-2 topics to mark you down for on their lists, so focus. Make it as timely and relevant as possible each time you call, but keep calling regularly.
  • Be clear about what you want. “I want to thank the Senator for her vote on…” or “I want the Senator to know that voting in ___ way is the wrong decision for our state because” or “I’m disappointed that the Senator….” Don’t leave any ambiguity.
  • They may get to know your voice or get sick of you. Don’t worry – the people answering the phones generally turn over every 6 weeks anyway.
  • Thank them for their time answering the phones.

Engage on Social Media

Expressing your opinions about political issues on social media can also be an effective way to engage your representatives. Here, your opinion is also shared with your followers and, when using hashtags, with the Twittersphere. However, be sure to put a . before your rep’s twitter handle, so that it is more visible.  This article explains why.

When All Else Fails: Faxing and Email

If you can’t get through at all in person or by phone, consider faxing your representative. The website https://faxzero.com allows you to send up to five free faxes per day.

Email is ideal when sharing digital content or links to support your case.