|(uses 2009 OL issue as an example)|
With members of Congress in their home states (especially in the August summer recess), it is a good time to introduce the bill to your Senators and ask for co-sponsorship. Again, co-sponsorship shows the Chairman and the committee members that there is strong support of the bills content within the larger Senate and gives the bill more of a chance to move forward to a vote and ultimately a full and comprehensive re-write of the 1961 Foreign Act. By making our foreign assistance more efficient and effective, U.S. assistance will have a greater impact on poor and hungry people around the world?critical in these tough economic times.
How do you find a town hall meeting? Matt or Robin will email dates and times of in-district visits when we see them, yet, the best way to learn where your Senator will be is to call their local office and ask. If you subscribed to your senator?s on-line newsletters, they often send out town hall or ?Congress on Your Corner? meetings through an email. Carlos Navarro in New Mexico has been using these local meetings very efficiently and then blogging about the results.
Tips for Town Hall Meetings
1. Arrive a little early to get a seat up front.
2. If staff are still setting up when you arrive, pitch in and help. Be careful not to be in their way.
3. Have your question or comment prepared ahead of time with talking points.
4. Bring a letter which states the same points (about co-sponsorship of S. 1524).
5. When Q & A time starts, be the first person with your hand up. (There is a little lull. Nobody wants to be first. After the first question, lots of hands go up and it's harder to be recognized).
6. Make your comment or ask your question fairly succinctly. (Make short statement and give 2-3 short talking points, then make 'ask' - Will you please cosponsor Senate Bill 1524, The Foreign Assistance Revitalization and Accountability Act of 2009?)
The U.S. Foreign Assistance Act, passed in 1961, now encompasses 33 different goals, 75 priority areas, and 247 directives and is executed by at least 12 departments, 25 different agencies, and almost 60 government offices.
The U.S. ties approximately 95 percent of its foreign aid to purchases of U.S. goods and services. It is estimated that this practice decreases its effectiveness in making actual reductions in poverty by 15-30 percent.
More talking points/ poverty facts can be found here at the Bread website.
7. Hand the member of Congress your letter and a copy of the attached summary. If you didn't get a chance to speak during the meeting, try to be the first person to get to the member of Congress after the meeting. Make your points verbally -then hand him your letter. You may also try and hand your letter to a staff member if you can not approach your member of congress.