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You Made History
The UFPJ Lobby Day on Sept. 26 was the biggest lobby day for peace any of us can remember - and you helped make it so! Even if you had to miss out on the lobby day, I will continue to reach out to you so that you can be involved in our follow-up activities.
Here is a quick report - upwards of 1,000 citizen lobbyists hit Capitol Hill, meeting with over 300 members of Congress and/or their staff. We represented 40 states, and met with about an equal number of Republican and Democratic members. Even the media were interested, the News Hour with Jim Lehrer covered the Indiana delegation meeting with Senator Lugar, Phil Donhue and his crew were present at a few meetings with the California delegation. Most delegations were met with a polite and respectful response. One Congressional Aide told a delegation "you are the best prepared and largest group I have ever met with"!
WE GOT RESULTS! Rep. Maxine Water's office (home of the Out of Iraq Caucus) reports a surge of interest in the caucus after our lobby day, and two new members: Reps. Lois Capps (CA-23) and Michael McNulty (NY-21). The No Permanent Bases in Iraq Bill (H.Con.Res.197 ) picked up two new co-sponsors: Reps. Brad Miller (NC-13) and Ike Skelton (MO-4).
Let's build on this success!
Please take the time to fax (or e-mail) a thank you note to the staff person or Congressperson you met with. (I know that many of you have already done this.) You should recap your sense of the meeting in the thank you note, and ask any follow-up questions you have, particularly regarding support for the bills we lobbied for. You have begun to build a relationship with the office of your Representative and/or Senators - keep it up!
(Contact info for your members of Congress can be found at http://www.capwiz.com/wand/dbq/officials)
Remember also to return the green exit forms to us (I've already gotten almost 100 returned - thank you!)
What next? Many of you are already planning next steps, or wondering what you should do. I have two answers for you.
On Monday, call your Senate offices to tell them you want them to stop funding the War in Iraq. They are planning to pass a $441 billion defense spending bill on Wednesday, which includes $50 billion for the war. Unfortunately, due to Senate procedures, they won't be able to vote against the war funding separately so we won't come close to winning this vote - BUT they have to hear our opposition to this war funding.
Call the Capitol Hill Switchboard at 202-225-3121 and ask to be connected to your Senator's office (remember you will have to make two phone calls to speak with each of your Senators' offices).
We all recognize that we need to keep the momentum going, build those relationships and keep the pressure on. This lobby day gave many of you a chance to start networking and planning for follow-up in your home district - UFPJ wants to support that work and create district-based legislative networks across the country. I know that many of you are interested - let me know if you want to be involved, and please share any ideas you have on how you think such a network should work in your district.
Congressional Education Day Coordinator
United for Peace and Justice