“It’s a good morning for Americans,” Congresswoman Betty McCollum told the Town Hall meeting on Saturday morning. She had flown back to St. Paul for the March 25 meeting after the defeat yesterday of the latest Republican attempt to kill Obamacare. And she was clear about how that happened: “The credit for the victory belongs to you — to the citizens, the millions and millions of citizens, because their engagement, their mobilization and their determination created an avalanche of opposition to President Trump’s health care bill.”
McCollum listed other challenges ahead, ranging from protecting and repairing the Affordable Care Act to protecting people and programs threatened by the Trump administration.
“We need to use the power of the people,” she said. “The phone calls were amazing,” and people also shared personal stories, engaged Congressional district offices in a respectful way, and showed up for meet-and-greets in opposition to the Trump health care bill,
In the question and answer period, one St. Paul resident asked what people can do to influence other representatives.
“When I knew that bill was at 17 percent support,” McCollum said, “I felt pretty confident walking up to one of my colleagues and saying, ‘My phone calls are running a hundred to one against this. How are your phone calls going?'” The glum reply from a Republican colleague: “I’m getting phone calls.”
The Russian connection
“Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined Congress having to grapple with a matter so unsettling” as the investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russian attempts to influence the 2016 election, McCollum said. “Let us be clear – the Russians hacked and attacked our election. That’s a fact. … We were attacked by a foreign adversary.”
She said an independent special prosecutor is needed, because “there is no way this Republican-controlled Congress can lead an impartial investigation into the Trump ties with Russia.”
During the question and answer period, a constituent said she didn’t want a special commission to look into Trump-Russia connections because that would take years — she wanted a special prosecutor. What, she asked, can you do to get a special prosecutor appointed?
McCollum pointed out that Republicans control the intelligence committee. But, she said, “If we know the phone calls are happening, that America is demanding an investigation,” that gives more leverage. “A lot of it is us keeping the pressure on, and your work with people across the United States and on social media, keeping the pressure on.”
Budget attacks on environment, the arts, AmeriCorps and more
Trump’s “skinny budget” proposes massive cuts to domestic spending and a $54 billion increase to military spending. This, she said, takes the nation to a place of greater militarization at the expense of domestic needs of every person in this room and across the country. “Every problem facing this nation does not require a military solution. Think about it – you can’t fight AIDS or famine or climate change with bombs or bullets.”
The budget would abolish some programs completely, including the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Legal Services Corporation, AmeriCorps, the Senior Corps, the Conservation Corps, low income heating assistance, and more. It would slash funding for the Environmental Protection Agency by 31 percent. “Their plan,” she said, “is to put the polluters in charge of environmental protection, which puts our air and land and water at risk, along with our collective health.”
We can’t be silent
Many of the questions focused on health care. McCollum’s call to action on health care can apply equally to every other issue: “We can’t be silent about what we think is the ultimate goal. In the meantime, we have to protect and build on what we have.”
So keep on calling, keep on writing, keep on talking on social media, keep on showing up.
What you can do:
Be respectful, be brief, but make that call. Call about one issue at a time. If you get voicemail – and that happens a lot, with all the phone calls now being made – leave a message. Be sure to leave your name and the city you live in. Call even if you know your representative has taken a good position on the issue – thank them and say that you support this position. Offices keep a tally of how many people support/oppose specific bills or issues. That’s important information when they talk to colleagues.
If you worry about making calls, there’s great advice in How to Call Your Reps When You Have Social Anxiety. Even if you don’t have social anxiety, it’s great advice.
And here are the numbers:
Senator Al Franken
DC – 202-224-8641
Minnesota – 651-221-1016
Senator Amy Klobuchar
DC – 202-224-3244
Minnesota – 612-727-5220
Congresswoman Betty McCollum
DC – 202-225-6631
Minnesota – 651-224-9191
Congressman Keith Ellison
DC – 202-225-4755
Minnesota – 612-522-1212
To find others, click here.