Training Lobbyists for Peace in Texas
By Mary Stata on 09/25/2012 @ 04:00 PM
Did you know that Texas is home to the most important congressional district for the peaceful prevention of deadly conflict? Congresswoman Kay Granger represents Fort Worth, Texas and serves as chair of the subcommittee that is in charge of the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development’s budget. Over the past two years, funding for diplomacy, development, and international cooperation has been under intense scrutiny. Critics say that while the U.S. faces a staggering budget and sluggish economy, government spending on non-military foreign policy tools should be significantly reduced. As a result, funding for critical programs like the Complex Crises Fund has been slashed. In fact, the House of Representatives voted to eliminate the Complex Crises Fund for the past two years in a row.
Even though I’ve met with countless congressional offices and organized many sign-on letters on the Complex Crises Fund, it was clear that Members of Congress needed to hear from their constituents. It was time to go outside of the beltway and visit the district represented by Congresswoman Kay Granger.
I traveled to Fort Worth, Texas recently to facilitate a lobby training in partnership with the ONE Campaign. On the campus of Texas Christian University, I met with constituents of Rep. Granger to discuss how critical their Member of Congress is for funding U.S. foreign policy. Participants of the lobby training included a photographer, retired Methodist pastor, businessman, and lawyer.
As we discussed the ladder of engagement, the Complex Crises Fund, and the cost-savings of preventing violence, I saw several “light bulbs” going off in the participants’ minds. Demystifying the lobbying process and encouraging activists to develop a relationship with their elected official, especially when there is so much disillusionment with Congress, is deeply satisfying. FCNL is at its best when it connects the rich experience and conviction of F/friends around the country with our lobbyists’ work in Washington.
The stakes are high. Congressional approval is at an all-time low and funds to prevent war vulnerable to extinction. Now is the time for constituents of Rep. Granger to raise their voice and urge full funding for the Complex Crises Fund.