Calling Your Rep, Reposted

By reader demand, here are some tips for reaching your Representative.

(1) Use a phone. Email has nigh on zero impact. Trust me on this. Letter mail gets read, but you don’t have time. Reach the House switchboard at (202) 224-3121 .

(2) Remember, this person works for you. You pay his or her salary and you voted for them. You’re the boss here, or at least one of them, and it’s they who should worry about what you think of them.

(3) Identify your name and the town or neighborhood where you live. If you are not a constituent, save your phone bill and yell at the TV.

(4) State the issue. This is easy: pass the Senate bill or the party gets it. We can (and certainly will) fix the shortcomings later.

(5) How strongly do you feel? Don’t apologize about feeling passionate or pissed off. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

(6) What are you going to do about it? Again, squeaky wheel. Will you reward good behavior with money or volunteers? Support a primary challenger if you feel let down? Stay home in November? Do you belong to a group who listens to your opinion or feels the same way you do? This part will get their attention and get the message passed on. Do not forget it.

One last, important point. We want to track where Representatives are swinging on this and who is willing to commit. However your Rep’s intern responds about the Senate bill, please email me or post it in the comments. We are most interested to know who is voting yes, who will vote no, who will not commit and whether the abortion language is a problem with conservative Dems.

***Update***

Think that we can trust them to get this right? Once again, Josh Marshall.

According to Majority Leader Hoyer, at the House Dems caucus meeting this morning, the leadership presented no plan or options for moving forward to get reform passed.

This is urgent. Call your Rep today.






84 replies
  1. 1
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    Nothing like the Germans chasing people out of France to make them realize they should have bought boats, huh?

  2. 2
    4tehlulz says:

    TPM is reporting that Pelosi says that the votes aren’t there for the Senate bill.

  3. 3
    CalD says:

    You must have read my mind, I was just reaching for the mouse to track down the original posting of this.

  4. 4
    Butch says:

    But what do you do – and I mean this question seriously – when your rep is a nut job (Mike Coffman of Colorado) who is publishing articles in the Denver Post about the unconstitutionality of any sort of government health reform?

  5. 5
    jrosen says:

    Called my Rep first thing this AM….Rothman of NJ. he’s “thinking about it”. I fear we’re toast.

    Thank God for Mozart.

  6. 6
    Jim says:

    WRT Hoyer: I suspect this means they took the pulse of the Weiners and the Stupaks and couldn’t get a majority. Fuckers.

  7. 7
    db says:

    Called Harry Mitchell’s office (AZ). The person I spoke with indicated that he is undecided because he is waiting on leadership to produce something that he can actually look at and then make a decision.

  8. 8
    Cat Lady says:

    The abortion language is a problem with the liberal Dems too.

    Be pissed off, but polite. They’re mostly just kids answering the phone.

    /Mom

  9. 9
    Mary says:

    Chris Van Hollen (MD) is a yes.

    The kid answering the phone said they appreciate calls like ours supporting passage and he sounded like he really means it.

  10. 10
    Violet says:

    Called and sent you and email, TimF.

  11. 11
    EdTheRed says:

    Wow, thanks…I’m gonna get right on the phone and call my re…oh, wait, I live in DC, I DON’T HAVE A FUCKING REPRESENTATIVE. Thanks for fucking up health care for us, rest of America. Special fuck you to the DNC, and Massachusetts. Fuck all y’all. Twice. Hard.

  12. 12
    Violet says:

    If Pelosi’s given up, it’s completely and totally over.

  13. 13
    Basilisc says:

    Posted this on yesterday’s thread: Moran (VA)’s office said he hasn’t yet decided about the Senate bill.

  14. 14
    Violet says:

    @Mary:
    I’m jealous. I’ve called my Rep’s office and two separate days and two different people have answered the phone. Neither of them knew anything about anything – hardly knew to take down my name and info. Didn’t seem to know there was anything called “health care reform” even being discussed.

    I think my Rep just grabbed a few people off the street to answer the phone or something. A temp could have done a better job of basic phone etiquette.

  15. 15
    Napoleon says:

    The Dems are just pathetic. Absolutely pathetic. I am done turning up and wasting my time voting for them.

  16. 16
    Kryptik says:

    Don’t listen to Hoyer, ever. His sole purpose as of late has been to contradict Pelosi at every turn and seed doubts. Until I hear it straight from her mouth that there’s no plans to go forward now, Hoyer can bite me.

  17. 17
    Jim says:

    At TPM, Pelosi just announced it’s over. They don’t have the votes.

  18. 18
    Mary says:

    @Violet: I don’t know what to say but I am furious that they can’t pass the Senate bill and I want to know why.

  19. 19
    Tim F. says:

    Mike Doyle (PA) is on the fence about the affordability of the mandate. Abortion is not a concern.

  20. 20
    CalD says:

    One thing to keep in mind about noisy Progressiverers® is that there aren’t actually very many of them. When they’re right about something and garden variety liberals and the center left jump on their band wagon, there are a lot of us. But when they’ve got their heads completely up their asses and nobody’s buying their line, it only sounds like there are a lot of them.

    Go call your congresscritter. We got ’em surrounded.

  21. 21
    Mr Furious says:

    The votes aren’t there? Fuck that.

    Show me.

    Roll call vote, Madame Speaker. Make them say it out loud.

    Otherwise you’re an accessory to me. Covering up the crime.

  22. 22
    moe99 says:

    It’s DOA. Give it up. Sorry

  23. 23
    Mary says:

    @CalD: The noisy Progressivers call all the Congress people and use phony addresses.

  24. 24
    maye says:

    Who (or whom) do they think will turn out to vote for them this November? Pelosi can kiss her speakership goodbye.
    The Dems are headed for losing both house and senate majorities.

  25. 25
    Lolis says:

    Nancy Pelosi just announced she doesn’t have the votes. If that’s the final word on this, I am done with the Democrats. The House needs to suck it up and pass the Senate bill. In some ways it is more progressive than the House bill anyway.

  26. 26
    RSR says:

    @Jim: I don’t know—that’s JMM interpretation of Pelosi’s remarks. Could she be goading the outliers (at both ends of the spectrum)?

  27. 27
    Jim says:

    @Mr Furious:

    I’ll drink to that. Get’em on the floor.

  28. 28
    Church Lady says:

    Nancy says she doesn’t have the votes – both the libs and the blue dogs are jumping ship. It’s over.

  29. 29
    gex says:

    My Rep is John Kline R-MN. I called, but I really don’t think that is going to do anything. Stupid suburbs.

  30. 30
    zzyzx says:

    Well I hope those people who voted for Brown because the bill didn’t go far enough are fucking happy now. Assholes.

  31. 31
    Elie says:

    Important — get your friends and network to call the Congressperson too — it matters!

  32. 32
    Gordon, The Big Express Engine says:

    Culberson is my rep (sigh…)

  33. 33
    Mojotron says:

    I just left a message for Elanor Holmes Norton. When they call Michael brown a “shadow senator” they’re not joking- I can’t find contact info or even a website for him. Not that he has any pull, but I thought I’d give it a shot.

  34. 34
    PeakVT says:

    Just called, forgot to ask what my Critter’s position was. Seems to be moot, anyway.

  35. 35
    John says:

    Here’s what Pelosi says they might be able to do:

    So one way or another those areas of agreement that we have will have to be advanced, whether it’s by passing the Senate bill with any changes that can be made, or just taking [pieces of it]

    The first part might mean passing the Senate bill and fixing it through reconciliation, right?

    But that’s really grasping at straws. Fuck the Democrats, this is ridiculous. I’m looking forward to the coming reign of Speaker Boehner.

  36. 36
    cleek says:

    it’s done. over.

    while the Democratic party stood around with their thumbs in their asses, the GOP killed a year’s worth of work by taking one Senate seat? that the Dems are so eager to cave tells me that they didn’t even want the reforms that did pass. not even a brave last stand. they just fold. they take their superior numbers and run for the hills. spineless fucking cowards.

    fuck them.

    and now the Dems will start acting like the party’s too far to the left, and will try to act even more like Republicans – which won’t help them a fucking bit in the upcoming elections.

    what a fucking worthless bunch of slugs the Dems are. absolutely fucking worthless.

    fuck them.

    i’ve done enough apologizing for their cowardice. i still realize it’s a two party system and not supporting the Dems is de facto support for the GOP. but, the current crop of Dems is absolutely worthless. they deserve no support. none at all.

    not even Obama. fuck him, too.

  37. 37
    db says:

    Could somebody post a link to a recent article or chart quickly detailing the differences between the current House and Senate versions?

  38. 38
    Rock says:

    Wow. Health care reform is dead. It’s pretty clear now that nothing will pass. I can only say:

    1) This is a failure of leadership by Obama. I understand herding cats is hard, but it came down to muscling the necessary votes in the House in his own party — it’s his failure.

    2) It’s not over-stating things to say that Obama is a 3 year lame-duck.

    Given this fiasco, I think the Dems lose Congress this year as well. And then we get a full return to the Bush agenda in 2012.

    I’m amazed.

  39. 39
    Robin G. says:

    I think Josh Marshall (who has been, like many of us, rending his clothing for the last 36 hours) might be jumping the gun a hair on this.

    “There’s a recognition that there’s a foundation in that bill that’s important. So one way or another those areas of agreement that we have will have to be advanced, whether it’s by passing the Senate bill with any changes that can be made, or just taking [pieces of it],” Pelosi said. “We have to get a bill passed — we know that. That’s a predicate that we all subscribe to.”

    It sounds like they’re trying to find procedural ways to screw with the Senate bill without actually sending it back to the Senate. Of course, it might just be words to keep us from leaping off a cliff. At this point, the Dems have given such contradictory statements in the last day that I’m getting whiplash and have no idea what’s going to happen.

    My husband called Betty McCollum’s office (D-MN), since I called yesterday. He asked, before telling his viewpoint, what McCollum’s stance is; the woman answering the phone said that since the situation is changing hourly, she has “no firm position.” That’s the most depressing news I’ve heard since this started, I must say.

  40. 40
    kay says:

    @Mary:

    I’m flabbergasted. They just lost their entire base and everyone in the middle. They simply won’t have any credibility going forward, on anything.

  41. 41
    Amy says:

    Another couple of things to do on the phone calls:

    Ask to speak with the legislative assistant. That person talks to the member of Congress every day and knows the issue in some depth. Otherwise, you have an intern answering the phone.

    Call Pelosi’s comment line. I am going to call her again and tell her it’s her job to get the votes.

    Finally, recruit at least five people to make these calls and ask them to recruit others as well. If you can’t do five, do at least one. The more the merrier.

    Let’s roll.

  42. 42
    Mr Furious says:

    @Jim: Right.

    Whip counts and guesstimates are not acceptable conclusions.

    I want a roll call vote. I want them on the record. Actual accountability for a vote cast might change a few minds. If not, and it still goes down, I know who to burn.

    But absent a vote, this is a straight-up cave. Why should I believe the votes aren’t there on anyone’s say so?

  43. 43
    Mary says:

    @kay: Me too. And forlorn.

  44. 44
    CalD says:

    @Mary: They’re crafty little munchkins. No two ways about that. I did say it sounds like there are a lot of them. Anyway, all the more important to call yourself.

  45. 45
    sgoode says:

    Unfortunately, my rep is Virginia Foxx. Maybe I’ll call anyway, just for the fun of it…

  46. 46
    danimal says:

    Call a roll call. Put them on the spot. I’m a moderate, incrementalist, accomodating sort almost all the time and I’m PISSED. The Dems are going to lose a generation if they don’t move, and move quickly to get this passed.

    I don’t give a damn if the Beltway cocktail circuit calls them arrogant or uncivil or whatever it is that gets their knickers in a twist. The GOP never gave a damn as they passed ruinous legislation.

  47. 47
    Violet says:

    I’m all for the roll call vote! How do we make enough noise to get this to happen?

    The gawdawful teabaggers can get enough people to phone to get their representatives to do what they want. Why the heck can’t noisy Progressivers do it too?

    C’mon people!

  48. 48
    Senyordave says:

    Wow. Health care reform is dead. It’s pretty clear now that nothing will pass. I can only say:

    1) This is a failure of leadership by Obama. I understand herding cats is hard, but it came down to muscling the necessary votes in the House in his own party—it’s his failure.

    2) It’s not over-stating things to say that Obama is a 3 year lame-duck.

    Given this fiasco, I think the Dems lose Congress this year as well. And then we get a full return to the Bush agenda in 2012.

    I’m amazed.

    Rock,

    Unfortunately there is nothing in your analysis I disagree with. Except I think its worse, and right now a majority of people in this country, if polled, would blame the ECONOMY primarily on Obama, and would vote for McCain/Palin if given a choice.

    Tthe Republicans are so disciplined, and will lie about anything, that many people will buy into it.

    That being said, the group I blame most is the hard left. They would have been bitching in the 50’s and 60’s about the pace of civil rights, and probably calling MLK a do-nothing wimp (or worse). There is such a thing as incrementalism, and it tends to work. The Jane Hamsher’s of the world have good insurance, and make enough money not to worry.

  49. 49
    Emma Anne says:

    OK, now I am pissed off at TPM. I clicked the article and the first paragraph says:

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi just told reporters that she does not believe she has enough votes in the House to pass the Senate health care reform bill as-is — at least not yet.

    To me this is quite different than Pelosi has given up.

  50. 50
    kay says:

    @Mary:

    I’m ridiculously grateful to TPM for following this. I don’t like surprises.

    It seems to me they’re going to try to portray a limited, piecemeal effort at insurance regulation as “health care reform”. Pelosi is simply echoing Feinstien and others. I think that will only erode their credibility further.

    If they’re dropping reform, they should admit it. No one is going to be fooled anyway. I guess the intent here is to save those members in safe seats. Why they need the seat at all is the next logical question. They can’t or won’t legislate.

  51. 51
    Doonhamer says:

    My representative is Raul Grijalva, co-chair of the Democratic Progressive Caucus. I just called and the staffer told me that Grijalva’s currently in negotiations to agree upon some form of HCR, but he wouldn’t elaborate. When I pressed for his current position, the only thing I got out of the staffer was that Grijalva’s still committed to a “public option”. Yikes. Anyway, I asked the staffer to urge Grijalva to vote for passage of the Senate bill now, assuming nothing better comes out of these negotiations.

  52. 52
    Doug Z says:

    Called Luis Gutierrez’ (Il-4)Washington office. Congressman supported House bill, Strong public option, etc… As to House passing Senate Bill, person in charge said Congressman was waiting to see. Any message for the Congressman? Yeah, it may not be your first choice, but do the right thing and pass the Senate bill. Fix it simultaneously, later, whatever, but Vote for the Bill..

    Will call again later to see what’s new.

  53. 53
    John says:

    It’s not over-stating things to say that Obama is a 3 year lame-duck.

    I know it seems like the end of the world right now, but that is overstating things. Clinton survived the failure of his health care plan, and Obama can survive it too. The Republican Party is much, much more unpopular now than it was in 1994, and is like to nominate an idiot.

    That being said, a repeat of the 90s is hardly anything to look forward to, and the Democratic Party is pathetic.

    Health care isn’t going to pass because fucking Democrats in the House won’t vote for it? Just totally indefensible.

  54. 54
    martian says:

    I called Jan Schakowsky’s (D-IL) Chicago and Washington offices yesterday. Chicago office said the Washington office is handling those questions and the Washington office basically stonewalled me, I felt. Guy just kept repeating that Schakowsky was waiting to see what came out of the House/Senate conference before making any decisions. No discussion, no variation in the wording no matter what I asked. And, yes, I was very polite. I’ve never had that happen with this office before.

    I’d put Schakowsky down as “won’t commit”.

    She’s the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus’ health care task force, for what that’s worth.

  55. 55
    Mary says:

    @kay: @Violet: The noisy Progressivers, Violet, want the Senate bill dead if they can’t get their public option.

  56. 56
    PeakVT says:

    If Pelosi really has folded, it’s certainly over for the current Senate megabill. There are still the options of a) passing reform in pieces, and b) convincing 50 senators to nuke the filibuster. The first still has a chance, but the second… well, stranger things have happened.

  57. 57
    Mary says:

    @Mary: I feel like demonstrating over this. And that’s saying something.

  58. 58
    Elie says:

    Just spoke to my Congressman’s office staff person (Rick Larson).

    I asked her what kind of calls they have been receiving and she said last week they were almost all against but this week they are increasing for the legislation…

    Make sure you spread the word to your friends and relatives — I am!

  59. 59
    cleek says:

    There are still the options of a) passing reform in pieces

    now that Dems are functionally in the minority in the Senate, they won’t be able to pass anything.

  60. 60
    kay says:

    @Mary:

    I don’t think that’s it, Mary. I think they’re frightened to pass any big piece of legislation. They don’t want to pass “The Health Care Bill”. Too risky.
    This was my worst case. I wasn’t freaking out over the loss in Massachusetts, because I wanted to see the Democrats response to the loss. This is about the worst response I could imagine. They’re completely panicking.

  61. 61
    Elie says:

    @kay:
    kay — they dont see that they have no choice? If they do not pass it they are dead dead dead. The baby is halfway out, no pushing this back in and there is no going back to pre-pregnancy. Like it or not, they are the midwives albeit to a tough delivery..

    I am so angry and disgusted with the chicken shits…I am ready to hit the streets or scream and yell or do anything to scare them back to their jobs

  62. 62
    kay says:

    @cleek:

    Can you imagine anything dumber than “passing reform in pieces”?

    That way, they can lose once a week for months, and talk about nothing else but the health care reform they didn’t get accomplished.

    It’s a brilliant strategy.

  63. 63
    Mary says:

    @kay: Well, it’s because the polls show only a 39% approval for the bill. In my view, the liberal opposition had elements of manufactured outrage in it. Recalling the arguments against Senate bill after the unions signed off on the deal–so many misrepresentations, push polls and other nonsense.

  64. 64
    kay says:

    @Elie:

    I’m at “fatalistic”. They can’t muster the courage to do their jobs, they should probably lose and get replaced. Right?

    I didn’t throw them under the bus. They jumped.

  65. 65
    kay says:

    @Mary:

    I know, but all that aside, here we are. Internet activists don’t have a vote in the House. These people do. They choked.

  66. 66
    Violet says:

    The messaging on this health care reform bill has been AWFUL from the WH and the Dems in Congress. They lost control of it back in the summer with the town halls and it’s just gone down hill since.

    The WH has to recognize it’s not dealing with normal people in the Republicans. And it’s got to act accordingly. The Dems also, but dealing with them is like herding cats.

  67. 67
    Elie says:

    ..and I agree with Senhor Dave..Obama completely fucked this up with the timely efforts of the hard left Hamsherites thrown in for good measure

  68. 68
    Mary says:

    @kay: You’re right and my anger is not helping with my ability to think right now.

  69. 69
    Elie says:

    @kay:

    Agree but we are in the situation right now…the voting them in or out is downstream…

    We are in the heart of a storm and they have their hands on the tiller…they cannot be allowed to give up — we must scream and yell and do what is necessary to make sure they stay where they are and see this through the fucking cowards!!!!

    I wish that we could tie them to their chairs and lock them in the House Chamber or wherever until they do what they MUST do

  70. 70
    Mary says:

    I just tried to call the White House. The line is busy. I hope they didn’t take the phone off the hook.

  71. 71
    Mary says:

    I don’t sign petitions but I would sign one for this cause and I would contribute money for an ad in the Post.

  72. 72
    C. Banana says:

    Put in a call to Keith Ellison (D-MN 5). He’s was quoted at minnpost.com this morning as hating the senate bill, but on the fence about whether the senate bill is better than nothing. Office is recording constituent comments but not making any remarks about his proposed course of action.

  73. 73
    kay says:

    @Elie:

    House members have said that they took all the heat for reform (health care and cap and trade) with no commensurate sacrifice in the Senate.

    What this approach does is make them ultimately responsible for passage of the Senate bill.

    I think that’s why they’re balking, and looking at it from their perspective, they have a point.

    It’s a lot to ask. I thought they might go for it because of the negative consequences of killing it, but some of the language here makes me think they’re pissed off (Pelosi’s mention of the Senate-brokered sweetheart deals, etc.)

    I can see that. I don’t think it matters, but I can see it.

  74. 74

    Alas, living in Washington, I should have a Democrat rep to harass, but I have Dave Reichert. We have a fundamental disagreement on issues; I believe that we need to build a strong economy with good, middle-class jobs, and he believes that political gains are more important than basic honesty. Further, his lies are so pathetic as to be insulting to the intelligence of those who believe that professional wrestling is real.

    So, you see, there’s not much point in discussing things with him.

  75. 75
    Elie says:

    @Mary:

    Just anyone let me know and I will go in with anyone on an ad. Really. count.me.in

    My heart is just breaking — I am in pain so much worse than if I had never been even allowed to hope that this could get done…

    We really would have been better off electing McCain and Palin and let them take this country down to its knees. This fucking country deserves no better..

  76. 76
    digit says:

    Just called Keith Ellison’s office, and was told:
    1. Ellison hasn’t committed one way or the other yet;
    2. The calls coming into his office have been 50/50 for passing the damn thing/letting the Senate bill die.

    Fanfuckingtastic. Go Dems!

  77. 77
    Elie says:

    @kay:

    But Lordy, kay, I hear and understand your point but to go back to my weird analogy upstring, are we going to let the baby fall on the ground if the midwife loses her grip on it? Holy jeezo pete! We aren’t talking about legislation about parking meters!!! Someone had better get a grip on reality here and though I dont disagree that the House shouldnt be pissed, someone has to man up here, pull up their britches and do what has to be done. Also, do they think that there would be just easy breezy if they just sit on their hands and let this fail cause the Senate is a bunch of assholes? Do they think that we will forget and hold them blameless?

  78. 78
    tisalaska says:

    Made my calls..easy. Expected cool response from Murkowski and Youngs office. Begich’s seemed genuine about appreciating the call of support probably because he has been getting crap from Palin tea baggers in the state.

    Post the number and marching orders to call on your personal facebook page. Admit it you all have facebook pages!

    This is the same ground roots effort that got Obama elected for the love of god. Time to quit wringing our hands about one lost seat and get on with it! Call because you know the obstructionists are!

  79. 79
    Cathy W says:

    Called Congressman Schauer (MI-7). The phone-answerer was not sure what he was going to do at this point. I left a message asking him to pass *something* and fix it later unless he could look me in the eye and tell me with a straight face that what was on the table was worse than doing nothing. I will get a response from him, the phone-answerer assured me.

  80. 80
    shirk says:

    Called the office of Sam Farr (CA-17). Aide said that Farr was undecided. I left strong encouragement to vote for the Senate bill. Aide took contact info (postal and email) and said I would hear back from the congressman.

  81. 81
    ellaesther says:

    @ Tim F. I just posted a link to the earlier “call your reps” post with the list of helpful hints over at Ta-Nehisi’s place.

    May I suggest that those of us who comment in other places do the same? The more people we can catch with our internet wiles, the better.

    (Going to post this appeal on the other, related threads as well).

  82. 82

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  83. 83
    Brant says:

    Called my rep, Jackie Speier (CA-12). When asked where she stood on HCR, the staff member first said that she could not disclose that. (?!) When pressed on whether the Congresswoman actually had a position that she was keeping secret or had not yet formed an opinion, was told that the Congresswoman had not yet released her statement.

  84. 84
    John says:

    Called both the DC and New York City offices of Rep Hinchey

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