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Demand Action from Congress
Cindy Sheehan has riveted the nation's attention, but Bush is unlikely to reverse course. And Congress will not act unless we push them. Now is the moment to demand that every member of Congress support a Resolution of Inquiry into what the Bush Administration was saying about its justifications for war three years ago. Did Casey Sheehan die for a noble cause? Let the President show us what it was. Please read this letter from AfterDowningStreet member Mike Hersh:
Rep. Barbara Lee introduced a Resolution of Inquiry [H.Res. 375] to investigate Bush Administration deceit and wrongdoing leading up to the Iraq War. The After Downing Street Coaltion (www.afterdowningstreet.org) is working with Rep. Lee's office and others implementing an ongoing strategy to gain Congressional co-sponsors for this Resolution.
You can help us tremendously! Even if you can only get one or two people to go along with you, we need you to set up a meeting with your Member of Congress to ask them to co-sponsor Rep. Lee's Resolution of Inquiry during the Summer Congressional recess (the next two weeks!). We also need specific information to follow up on these meetings. Find out if your Representative seems willing or reluctant to cosponsor and then report back to us at email@example.com. Specifically ask your member of Congress what they would need to see or know to cosponsor. Then continue discussions with your Congress person. The After Downing Street Coalition can help.
Here are a few suggestions for having a successful meeting:
* Before the meeting:
Check the status of your Representative. Here are current co-sponsors:
If your Representative has already cosponsored, then this is a "thank you" meeting. If not, then this is a lobbying meeting and critically important to our efforts.
Call the Congresspersons' office to confirm the date and time for the meeting. Request to meet with the Representative, the Chief of Staff or Legislative Aide. Only settle for someone else as a last resort, as this meeting will focus on a very specific request for action: co-sponsorship of the Resolution of Inquiry.
Ask for a fax # and / or email address to send copies of the Resolution of Inquiry and at the Minutes from the first Downing St. meeting for the Representative or staffer(s) to look at before the meeting. Then quickly fax or email these materials to the proper address or number. We can't assume your Congressperson is aware of these materials, so here they are:
ROI: a one-page PDF of the Resolution of Inquiry you can print and bring to the meeting: http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/downloads/roi-onepage.pdf
Link to the ROI (scroll down):
DSM: Downing Street Minutes, July 23, 2002 - Also known as the Downing Street Memo. A one-page PDF of the first Downing St. Minutes you can email to your Representative and print out to familiarize your group and bring to the meeting:
Link to the first meeting minutes:
Print out several copies of the Resolution (ROI) and Minutes (DSM) so you and your partners can familiarize yourselves with the key documents, and also to present them to the Representative or staffers for them to look over at the start of the meeting so everyone can refer to them during the meeting.
It would be helpful to know if your Representative signed Rep. Conyers' letter on 5/5/05 Calling on the President to Answer Questions Concerning the "secret Downing Street memo"
Here's a PDF list of Members of Congress who signed the letter:
Here's a PDF of the letter itself: http://www.house.gov/judiciary_democrats/letters/bushsecretmemoltr5505.pdf
Also if your Member of Congress is on the International Relations Committee or belongs to key caucuses within the House who have not yet co-sponsored:.
Members of the Out of Iraq Caucus:
Members of the Black Caucus:
Members of the International Relations Committee:
Depending on these factors, your Representative may be very willing or less willing to cosponsor the ROI. All of these are priority Members of Congress and it's essential you meet with them even if you can't get more than one or two people to go with you.
AfterDowningStreet.org has a How to Lobby Kit which includes specific tips for setting up, organizing, and conducting successful meetings with Members of Congress here: http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/?q=node/538
* At the meeting:
Limit the number of people attending the meeting to 10 or so if possible, and those speaking during the meeting to 1 - 3. We won't have time for a lot of interplay until after the meeting, when anyone can say anything informally.
Present the ROI and DSM to the Congressperson and give them time to look them over during the brief introductions.
Stay focused on the ROI and co-sponsorship specifically, not the DSM, the Bush Administration and / or the war generally. Some if not most Congress people will want to turn this into a campaign speech etc. Politely prevent that from happening.
Specifically ask if the Congressperson is willing to cosponsor the ROI, explain this is the reason for the meeting, ask if not, why not, and especially ask what the Rep. needs to know or see in order to cosponsor. Determine whether the Rep. is sincerely interested in cosponsoring, or if he or she is just saying it to appease constituents.
* After the meeting:
After Downing Street would like to know if the Rep. is willing to cosponsor, and if not what their specific reservations might be. Please include this information in your reports:
1. Member of Congress: name, state, district
2. Is he or she willing to Cosponsor: yes, no, maybe?
3. If YES thank them. If NO or MAYBE ask what they need to cosponsor?
4. Any additional comments you think would be useful in planning follow-ups.
Please send this information to me at mikehersh (at) mikehersh.com and contact me with any questions or suggestions or ask for any other help.
Rep. Lee Introduces Resolution of Inquiry: http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/?q=node/902
Talking Points: http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/?q=node/612
Sample Letter: http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/?q=node/539