June 2017 Update: It’s the last week of June. The Senate version of the AHCA is out. It’s terrible. Some Republican senators are wavering. Now is the time to call, call, call and tell your senators that you oppose the AHCA.
Call every day this week (June 26-30) but please, only call your own senators.
If you or your family would be hurt by the passage of the AHCA, think hard about whether you are comfortable telling your story. If you can tell it, please do.
Calling is especially urgent if your Republican senators are any of the following people:
Susan Collins of Maine
Lisa Murkowski of Alaska
Rob Portman of Ohio
Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia
Cory Gardner of Colorado
Dean Heller of Nevada
Bill Cassidy of Louisiana
Jeff Flake of Arizona
Text of the original post follows.
You’ve called your senators and your house rep to oppose the Republican plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), aka Obamacare. (OTYCD suggested this action on January 5.)
But ACA issues are still making headlines. In the early hours of January 12, the Senate voted 51-48 on an action that would help them bulldoze the law later on. It paves the way for the passage of a reconciliation bill, a type of bill that can’t be filibustered:
Should you call your members of Congress every time the ACA comes under threat?
Usually, the answer is no, you should not call your members of Congress if you have already called to speak your mind on a specific issue.
But there are a few exceptions. If they apply to you, go ahead and call again.
You have new information that the member of Congress can freely use. An ACA-related example would be your willingness to share a story about how the ACA’s repeal would hurt you directly and personally, which you did not share when you called the first time.
Important side note: “Free use” means you’re letting your reps talk about your ACA story in public, in their own words, as they see fit, in whatever venue they choose, and on whatever media platform they choose (social media or otherwise). Once you give them your story, you lose control over it.
You are never obliged to share personal medical information in public. And if the ACA story is not about you–if it’s about a spouse, a grown child, a minor child, a friend–you must get that person’s permission before you share it with your reps.
But many members of Congress who are trying to defend the ACA have explicitly called for personal stories from their constituents. Offering yours can help the cause, if it’s your story to tell and you feel comfortable sharing it. (End of side note.)
You can call to thank or complain to your members of Congress after a key vote takes place. Some Democratic senators voiced objections during the Jan 12 actions. Two were Ron Wyden of Oregon and Maria Cantwell of Washington. Do they represent you? Then you could call and say thank you–but you should be specific, and cite exactly what they did to merit the thank-you.
Sample thank-you script: “I am (Firstname Lastname) from (town, zipcode). I see that Senator (Lastname) spoke up during the late-night session that ultimately voted to weaken the Affordable Care Act. I thank you for fighting for the law, and I will remember that you did the right thing.”
If you are angry about how your senator behaved during the vote, you could call and complain. But again, be specific. Tell the senator exactly what they did to make you complain.
Sample complaint script: “I am (Firstname Lastname) from (town, zip code). I see that Senator (Lastname) voted for Senate Resolution 3 on January 12. This bill paves the way to cripple, even kill the Affordable Care Act. My family and I depend on the ACA for our health care. I oppose what Senator (Lastname) just did, and I will remember that you did the wrong thing.”
Updated to add on May 21: You can also call multiple times on the same issue if you are joining a campaign that requires daily calls. A good example is the recent effort to ask your MoCs, daily, to pursue an independent investigation of the #TrumpRussia scandal and encourage them to slow or stop the work of Congress until that happened.
Never forget: Do not call anyone who does not represent you. Stick to your two senators and your one house rep.
Also, only call the relevant reps. The January 12 vote took place in the Senate, so you should call your senators, and only your senators; you should not waste time and energy calling your house rep.
And still call if your members of Congress don’t reflect your views. If anything, it’s more important for you to call. If you don’t say something, it’s that much easier for your reps to believe that people who think like you don’t exist.
If you are so delighted, or angered, by the actions of an out-of-state member of Congress that you must say something, find a street address for their office and mail them a postcard. Alternately, you could leave a message on their Facebook page or tweet at them. But please keep the phone lines free for their own constituents.
Bonus resource: Below is a link to Liberal Spirit, an exceptionally useful web page on the topic of contacting your members of Congress. In point 3, the author generally recommends against calling your reps a second time on the same topic.