Congress' Spring Break
By Alicia McBride on 03/28/2012 @ 06:14 PM
It's spring. Here in Washington, the cherry blossoms are almost past, and everything it taking on a faint yellowish tinge as the pollen count rises.
This time of year, there's a lull in the action on Capitol Hill as members of Congress take a two-week break to return to their states and districts. The House and Senate are both on recess until April 16, and most members will be holding public events and opportunities for constituents like you to talk with them and share your views. These in-person interactions are some of the most influential in shaping members' points of view on what matters to the people they represent.
This recess is a critical time for members to hear from you. In the next several months, members will be making critical decisions on federal budget priorities, including whether to preserve current law that would require $1 trillion in cuts from the Pentagon budget over the next 10 years. This recess is the longest stretch of time that representatives and senators will be home until August, when election-year campaigning will be at the top of many of their agendas.
Here's what you need to know to be an effective advocate during this congressional recess:
- Find out about public events your member is hosting. Some members of Congress have a calendar of public events on their websites, but many do not. The best way to find out what events your member is attending is to call the district office, identify yourself as a constituent, and ask. Many members have email newsletters that you can sign up for to get updates on a regular basis. You can find phone numbers and web addresses for your members of Congress in our online congressional directory.
- Invite a friend. It's easier and more fun to go to events with other people. And if you coordinate with others, there's a greater chance that someone will be able to ask the question or engage the member of Congress in conversation.
- What will you say? It's helpful to have a plan before your arrive at an event. Check out FCNL's Cut the Pentagon Action Center for ideas on simple ways to ask your members about their support for cutting the Pentagon budget. For example, you could print out one of the fact sheets or a copy of the Sustainable Defense Task Force report outlining ways the budget could be cut and give your members a copy.
If you have a chance to come to Washington, DC and meet with your members of Congress, it's an exciting and memorable experience. But in terms of effective advocacy, your work in your local community right now is as important. Your members of Congress want to hear from you while they are home. Will you have something to tell them?