Way back when we were all mesmerized with Comey’s testimony of employer harassment and Donald was being kept busy with a chew toy, the Senate GOP had been secretly crafting a healthcare plan designed to be voted on quickly by the end of June. They wanted to use “Rule 14” to whip it to the floor for a vote, and the deed would be done before we have a chance for expert analysis or public comment. Then the gaslighting about “access” would commence, because, well, they think we’re stupid.
Why did the Senators think this would work?
(Ben Wikler)”…Senators are telling me that their phones have returned to normal, pre-Trump levels. A few dozen calls a day….”
They thought that the resistance was tired. That although we would be angry, we would be ready to throw in the towel, resigned to our fate.
Ummm… Wrong. Oh, they were so wrong!
(Ben Wikler)”Unlike the House vote, where most people only noticed the onrushing train in the final 48 hours, we have 3 weeks to make this toxic…”
So, on Monday, June 12th, we began a 3 week daily calling campaign to make the Senate understand that we won’t let them destroy our health care without a fight.
So, unless we all have got a few million dollars lying around, we gave them a preview on how we’ll vote in the next election. We continue to do that every day.
Step 1: Your phone is your most effective weapon in this war. Call your Senators every day. Blue or Red, doesn’t matter. They all count the calls. Same issue, every day. Say the same exact thing every day. Doesn’t matter. Tell them how you’ll vote.
Daily Scripts – Regular
(If you haven’t called your congresspeople before and it makes you nervous, we have instructions at the bottom…)
Script for all Senators: I’m calling to urge Senator [Name] to vote NO on the current healthcare bill. Until legislators conduct open, transparent hearings to create a bill a bill that actually helps all Americans, including families, women, children, the poor as well as the middle class of all ages, the disabled, and the elderly, I am AGAINST repealing or defunding the Affordable Care Act and I will be keeping Sen. [Name]’s actions in mind next time I vote. My zip code is [#####]. Thank you. (Same script…every day…)
Step 2: Write letters with stories about how access to healthcare was important to you or your family. Send them to your Senators, with permission to use them.
Step 3: Join protest rallies! Bring photogenic signs. Indivisible Ventura and other groups will keep you up-to-date on whens and wheres.
Here’s the Phone #’s for California’s Senators.
Senator Feinstein: DC (202) 224-3841, LA (310) 914-7300, SF (415) 393-0707, SD (619) 231-9712, Fresno (559) 485-7430
Senator Harris: DC (202) 224-3553, LA (213) 894-5000, SAC (916) 448-2787, Fresno (559) 497-5109, SF (415) 355-9041, SD (619) 239-3884
Here’s the Phone #’s for California’s Representatives in the VTA and SB areas.
(Check which one is your District Representative)
Rep. Julia Brownley (CA-26): DC (202) 225-5811, Oxnard (805) 379-1779, T.O. (805) 379-1779
Rep. Salud Carbajal (CA-24): DC (202) 225-3601, SB (805) 730-1710 SLO (805) 546-8348
Here’s the link #’s for other Senators: http://www.phoneyourrep.com
Script for Wednesday, June 21 – Planned Parenthood.
Quick Link for calling!
Script – short version: I’m calling to ask my Senator to vote NO on any attempt to defund Planned Parenthood. I expect my Senator to vote against any attacks on Planned Parenthood and the vital health services they provide. My zip code is [#####]. Thank you for your time.
Script – long version: I’m calling to ask my Senator to vote NO on any attempt to defund Planned Parenthood. This is nothing more than a blatantly political attempt to do whatever it takes to attack women’s health and rights and take health care away from the people who need it most. If Congress cuts funding to Planned Parenthood, millions of people will be left without access to birth control, lifesaving cancer screenings, and other basic care. Many of them will have nowhere else to go for the health care they need.
I’m counting on my Senator to do the right thing and stand up for the Planned Parenthood patients in our community and across the country who are counting on those health centers. I stand with Planned Parenthood because [insert your own story, if you like]. I expect my Senator to vote against any attacks on Planned Parenthood and the vital health services they provide.My zip code is [#####]. Thank you for your time.
Script for Friday, June 23 – Medicaid
Script: I’m calling to ask Senator (____) to fight against any cuts to Medicaid. As the baby boomer generation ages, our nation will need more Medicaid funding, not less. Any reduction of funding is a step in the wrong direction and will hurt to our senior citizens, low income families, and those with disabilities.
Script for Wednesday, June 28 – Prevention and Public Health Fund
The ACA provides nearly $1 billion annually to the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which combats bioterrorism threats, responds to epidemics like Zika, and provides routine preventive services like immunizations. The Senate Trumpcare bill eliminates this funding, which will increase vaccine-preventable disease, food-borne infections, and hospital-contracted infections.
Script: I’m calling Senator (Feinstein and Harris) to vote NO on cutting funding funding to Core Public Health Programs, like any sensible person. I can’t believe that the GOP, in their rush to give a huge tax break to the wealthiest among us, would be willing to put us all, including the rich, in danger of preventable diseases and infections.
Resources (updated daily):
(Contacts for your friends and family to call)
(Joe Katz’ great Facebook explaner page)
Life Before the ACA. The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation remembers for us. tinyurl.com/Joe-Friday-would-like-this
ACLU/ Women’s Group Coalition Letter for ACA and Planned Parenthood Support
The House’s Obamacare Repeal Bill Would “Defund” Planned Parenthood. Here’s the Truth About What That Means.
The “Trumpcare” plan that just passed the House would eviscerate money for PP – but defunding is about a lot more than abortions.
Trump Budget Proposal Completely Defunds Planned Parenthood
Healthcare without Planned Parenthood: Wisconsin and Texas point to dark future
Tips for Calling Congress For People who hate to Call Anybody, Let Alone Congress, or If You’re New to This Calling Thing…
(from Lauren O’Neal)
If you know me, you know I hate talking on the phone more than anything, so if I can do it, you can do it too. It’s actually pretty easy as far as phone calls go, for those of you who also have phone anxiety. You just call, a staffer answers, you read your script, the staffer says they’ll pass the info along, the end. If you’re super nervous, read the script out loud first to practice. Also you can squeeze your eyes shut or curl up in the fetal position or whatever—they can’t see you!
It usually only takes about 10 to 15 minutes to do a round of these phone calls. Of course, phone calls from constituents are not the most powerful political tool in the world, but they do have an effect when there are a lot of them —and they listen when there are a lot of them.
Plus taking 10 minutes out of your day to do it is not that much effort when you consider we’re facing 23 million being uninsured , innumerable medical bankruptcies and an estimated 25,000-44,000 deaths a year.
- Aside from in-person meetings at town halls and so forth, phone calls are the most effective form of communicating with your members of Congress, because phone calls can’t be ignored. Letters, emails, and social-media posts don’t count for much. Feel free to write/email/post on social media, but only if you make a phone call as well. (Exception are letters detailing healthcare issues that ACA helped with)
- You have two senators and one representative. To find out who they are and how to contact them, use Google, text your zip code to 520-200-2223, or check the EXTREMELY comprehensive ContactingCongress.org.
- Each member of Congress has a DC office as well as one or more local offices in-state. If you have time, call both! If you can only call one, call the office most local to you first. If no one is answering, then call the DC office.
- Since I’m making a lot of phone calls to these folks, I’ve saved their numbers in my phone—two numbers each, both the local office and the DC office.
- When you call, they will probably ask you for zip code and possibly your address, to make sure you’re a constituent, so be ready to give those.
- Ask for specific things like “vote for the XYZ Bill,” rather than just saying “oppose Trump.”
- Keep it short. You don’t need to tell the staffer you speak to why you support or oppose something, just that you support or oppose it. They’re just creating a tally of how many people took which position; they won’t pass your convictions or supporting arguments along to your member of Congress.
- Be very courteous and polite, obviously.
- For further reading, check out “This is what it’s like answering all those phone calls to Congress” by the communications director for a sitting Congresswoman.
Notes on “Withholding Consent”
(Lauren O’Neill) “ Democrats could delay the vote on the AHCA by “withholding consent,” which is basically just a fancy way of saying they could insist on following a bunch of tedious Senate rules to make the process go slower. But rumor has it that many don’t want to because it will only buy a couple weeks of time and they don’t want to be seen as obstructionist.
But Republicans were obstructionists for the whole 8 years Obama was president, and it didn’t hurt them—plus now they’re just calling Democrats obstructionists no matter what they do, so why let that affect Democrats’ actions? And, more importantly, as Indivisible’s Ezra Levin points out:
“2 weeks of public debate could kill TrumpCare. People HATE it. Let it sit in the sun. It will rot.”
So urge your Democratic senators to withhold consent!
(From Indivisible National)
REPUBLICANS WILL STOP AT NOTHING TO GET TRUMPCARE THROUGH.
They’re using a strategy of speed and secrecy to pass TrumpCare in the Senate. No hearings, no town halls, and no CBO score. And they definitely aren’t letting anyone read the bill. We need to slow them way down and draw attention to their terrible bill and their terrible process. That way, everyone will know how many people will lose coverage, how many protections will be taken away, and how much premiums are expected to increase.
DEMOCRATS AREN’T IN CONTROL, BUT THEY CAN STILL RESIST.
There are two main ways that your Democratic Senator can fight back against Trumpcare:
- Withhold consent. Your Democratic Senator can slow down Senate business, in part by “withholding consent.” The rules of the Senate are so complicated that Senators have to regularly consent to waiving some of them so that they can actually get work done. That includes shortening time for debates, expediting consideration of amendments, and scheduling committees. Your Senator can slow the Senate down to a crawl and focus attention to TrumpCare by withholding his or her consent on legislative business.
- Filibuster by amendment. Republicans are using a special process called “reconciliation” to jam through TrumpCare. This means they only need 51 votes, instead of the usual 60, to pass it. But the trade-off is that they have to allow an unlimited number of amendments. Any Senator can file as many amendments as they want and then call them up for a vote on the Senate floor during a period called “vote-a-rama.” Democratic Senators can and should plan thousands of amendments and keep them going until Republicans agree to have public hearings on the bill.
Your Senator might act like they can’t do this out of some unspoken rule of Senate courtesy. But this is no ordinary time in the Senate—we have to pull out all the stops to stop TrumpCare.