The Next 4 Months, in 5 Numbers
By Alicia McBride on 09/10/2012 @ 09:30 AM
As FCNL's communications director, I usually deal more with words than numbers. But right now numbers give a good picture of what's ahead. Here are some that are particularly important to keep in mind.
57: Days before the election. Now that both parties have finished their conventions, all eyes are on November 6.
6: Days that Congress is likely to be conducting business between now and Election Day. Between congressional recesses, days when votes don't start until 6:30pm, and pressure to get back on the campaign trail, there's not a lot of time for getting the business of governing done.
1: Things that Congress has to do before it can adjourn. Congress hasn't yet passed legislation to fund the government and pay government employees after September 30. See what Congress might do about that problem if it can't agree on all its appropriations bills before September 30.
With the election looming, few legislative days left to act, and one big task remaining, it doesn't take a crystal ball to see that members of Congress are almost certainly going to push taking action on a number of other issues into their session after the November elections--issues such as whether to extend the expiring Bush tax cuts and whether to let across-the-board budget cuts to go into effect.
Which brings me to a few more important numbers.
68: The number of days before the first ever Quaker Public Policy Institute and Lobby Day. Just at the moment when members of Congress are coming back after the elections, they will have Quakers and other FCNL supporters in their offices letting them know that their constituents support cutting the Pentagon budget by $1 trillion over the next 10 years so that our country can afford to pay for other priorities. Find out how you can be part of this event.
0: The number of days you should wait before talking with your members of Congress and your candidates about Pentagon spending and taxes.
Even though these decisions won't be made until later this year, members of Congress need to hear from you and others in your community now, and next week, and next month, as well as in November. What your members of Congress hear from you now will help determine what they do then.
What can you do?
Here are some suggestions--and we'll be offering more in our weekly action emails in the next few weeks. (If you don't already get these in your email box, you can sign up for the Legislative Action Message list here.)
- Write to your members of Congress. They are hearing a lot from Pentagon contractors and others who don't want the bloated Pentagon budget to be scaled back. Make sure they hear from people who think that judicious cuts in Pentagon spending are a good idea.
- Write a letter to the editor, and mention the names of your members of Congress. If your letter is published, it's guaranteed to wind up on your member of Congress' desk if you include his or her name. Be sure to let us know if your letter gets published!
- Write to your candidates. It's never too early to start letting your future elected officials know what you want them to make a top priority when they get into office.
- Ask questions in public - at events, or on social media. With the conventions behind us, candidates will be out in force in your communities asking for your vote, and it's a great time to let them know what matters to you. I edited an entire issue of our Washington Newsletter with suggestions on questions you can ask and how to approach candidate events that can be a good resource.
- Take pie. A budget pie is a sweet way to show your members of Congress or candidates how out of balance the federal budget really is. We have recipes, lobbying tips, and more -- and are collecting stories of people who've made pie an integral part of their lobbying.
- Come to the Quaker Public Policy Institute and Lobby Day, or lobby in your members' district office in November if you can't make it to Washington. In person lobby visits are the most effective way to get your views across and influence your members of Congress, especially if they haven't already made up their minds.
When I edit for FCNL, I keep a close eye out for hyperbole. We do our best to be truthful with you--not to prophecy doom and gloom when it's not called for just to get you to act, and not to tell you your action will matter when it won't. But everything I've heard from our lobbyists and field staff in the past few months suggests that now is a time when it truly is critically important for you and others in your community to act.
The decisions Congress makes in the next few months will have a huge impact on the amount of money that the government has to spend and what it can spend it on. No matter what you care about, it will be affected by these decisions. Make sure you're part of them.