They Represent Us – 2017 Directory of Government Officials
(League of Women Voters)
A few days after the election of Donald Trump, two former congressional staffers talked about what every progressive in America was talking about: what do we do now? We saw energy building to resist, but it wasn’t directed.
Sign a petition? Call Congress? How does this actually translate into taking down Donald Trump’s agenda?
It hit us. We’d seen a model for success for how local activism can affect real change in Congress. If the Tea Party was able to take on a historically popular President Obama with a Democratic super-majority to slow and sometimes defeat his federal agenda, we can surely take on Donald Trump and the members of Congress who would do his bidding.
So we wrote a Google Doc and put it online December 14. The roadmap we laid out wasn’t rocket science:
- Tea Party-inspired strategy: locally focused, defensive congressional advocacy to protect our values (without the vitriol).
- How your member of Congress thinks: reelection, reelection, reelection — and how to use that to save democracy.
- Identify or organize your local group: building constituent power through organically-formed, locally-led groups.
- Local advocacy tactics that actually work: focusing on your three members of Congress through town halls, other public events, district office visits, and mass calls.
Get the INDIVISIBLE GUIDE:
The frightening reality is that immigration officers are terrorizing our communities. Raids on immigrant families are escalating. Mothers who have been here for over a decade have been ripped from the arms of their children. Immigrants with lawful status have been unlawfully detained. Deportation forces have targeted parents picking their children up from school and even waited outside of to courts to track down domestic abuse victims seeking protection. Because of fear of being detained or deported, immigrants are avoiding going to the doctor when they get sick, parents are pulling their kids out of school, and others are hiding deeper in the shadows.
Download this toolkit today and learn how to be an Immigrant Ally.
The federal government’s funding runs from October 1st through September 30th of the following year. This is called the fiscal year. If September 30th comes and Congress hasn’t passed all of its appropriations bills, the federal government shuts down until they get their act together.
If Congress is simply taking too long and the September 30th deadline is looming, MoC’s can give themselves an extension called a continuing resolution (or “CR”), maintaining current funding levels until they can actually pass spending bills. [Important note: all of this refers to discretionary spending, not mandatory spending. You can learn more about this distinction in our appropriations primer found here.]
What’s a Discharge Petition?
After a bill has been introduced and referred to a standing committee for 30 days, a member of the House can file a motion to have the bill discharged, or released, from consideration by the committee. In order to do this, a majority of the House (218 voting members, not delegates) must sign the petition. Once a discharge petition reaches 218 members, after several legislative days, the House considers the motion to discharge the legislation and takes a vote after 20 minutes of debate. If the vote passes (by all those who signed the petition in the first place), then the House will take up the measure. [Read More]
In our first explainer on the appropriations process, we outlined what a normal government funding process would entail to “keep the lights on.” There are a number of options for how Congress funds the government—whether in a catch-all “omnibus” (combined appropriations bills), or through a continuing resolution that extends current funding levels until a certain date.
Whatever option Congress uses to pass an appropriations (spending) bill, the important thing to know is that these are “must-pass” pieces of legislation. They must be passed or the government shuts down. No one relishes a government shutdown (except, maybe, Ted Cruz), which is why lawmakers typically work together to make sure that spending bills are enacted by their deadlines. Typically.
The problem is that must-pass bills create an incentive for some MoCs to try to attach policy changes to these bills that are much harder to pass on their own. The thinking is, if members can manage to get their policy priority into the must-pass bill, other MoCs will have to support it because they want to avoid a shutdown. These are called policy riders—because they “ride” on top of a must-pass bill. And, because the president lacks line-item veto authority, he must sign the appropriations bill as-is, which means policy riders have a high likelihood of becoming law. Policy riders tend to be controversial.
So when we talk about riders, we’re talking about “strings attached” to appropriations bills that must become law. Typically, we see riders in two forms. In the most typical form, Congress includes riders that limit the use of funds appropriated. In another form, a rider is an extraneous appropriation of funds, such as Trump’s request for funding for a U.S.-Mexican border wall, attached to an appropriations bill that is necessary to continue funding the government. [Read More]