This is outrageous: Congress is in recess and our Senators, who are supposed to represent us, are refusing to hold any town halls with their constituents. At a time when the country is in turmoil, McCain and Flake refuse to face the people they purport to serve. Indivisible has put out a guide for people attending town hall meetings during this time which we, as an Indivisible Group, will share with you below. But we can’t implement it because our Senators are stonewalling!
Here is what Indivisible has to say about Members of Congress (MoCs) who refuse to hold town halls:
Town halls are a basic part of our democratic heritage and every Member of Congress should have them. Over the year, a MoC’s schedule is split between time “in session,” when they’re expected to be in Washington, DC attending to legislative business, and “recess,” when they go back to their districts or states. These recess periods—also known as “District Work Periods” on the congressional calendar—which stretch from several days to several weeks at a time, are the designated periods for MoCs to be home engaging with constituents. The whole reason that recess exists is to make sure that MoCs don’t lose touch with constituent concerns.
Town halls are a time-honored tradition for listening to constituents. Because MoCs can’t possibly meet individually with all their constituents, they normally host public events like town halls or district office hours so that they can interact with many constituents. In addition to allowing constituents to communicate their views directly to a MoC, rather than through staff, it gives MoCs the chance to take the temperature of their constituents and discuss their positions in greater detail.
Now, some MoCs find the prospect of a town hall, or even a large group meeting, pretty scary. If they handle a controversial policy question or a heartfelt personal story poorly, a whole lot of people are going to hear about it. But, once again, that’s their job. As a constituent, you deserve opportunities to share your views and personal stories about how policy affects your lives with your representative. And you also deserve opportunities to hear directly from your MoC about where they stand on the issues you care about. An MoC who’s carefully tailoring their appearances to avoid hearing from people who disagree with them is an MoC who’s not doing their job.
In lieu of the meetings our Senators should be having with us, call them and demand a meeting in Flagstaff. The phone numbers to are below these suggestions for your call: Identify yourself and state where you live — give them a zip code as well as your city. Ask a very clear question. “When is your next town hall or public meeting?”
- You want to get either a definite time and place or a definite acknowledgment that one hasn’t been scheduled.
If the response you get is “We’re working on scheduling one” or “Check back later,” they may be hoping you’ll think that’s good enough—it isn’t. Ask when they’ll know, and if you’ll be notified.
Be firm that you believe this a non-negotiable part of your Senator’s job.
Washington, D.C. Office
Phoenix, AZ 85016
Main: (602) 952-2410
Fax: (855) 952-8702
Prescott, AZ 86301
Main: (928) 445-0833
Fax: (928) 445-8594
Washington, DC 20510
Main: (202) 224-2235
Fax: (202) 228-2862
Here are the urgent matters we should be able to talk with our elected representatives about (from Indivisible):
This week, your Members of Congress (MoCs) don’t have votes and committee hearings. This is a great opportunity to ask them the big picture questions—and to try to get them to commit to an answer—so we’ve outlined four major topics to ask your MoCs about. It’s also a week where they’re supposed to be focusing entirely on YOU, so just as important as our suggestions is for you to ask them about whatever issues matter to you the most. Here are our guides on how to talk about some big issues:
Defending the ACA/Obamacare. Republicans have been trying and failing to repeal Obamacare for seven years. And seven years later, they’ve still got no plan for how to replace it. If your MoC has been calling for repeal, ask them these questions—we’re pretty confident they won’t have a good answer.
Opposing Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court. The next Supreme Court justice will shape the Court’s decisions for decades to come. It’s absolutely essential that Democratic Senators stick together in opposing Trump’s nominee.
Opposing the Muslim and refugee ban. Trump’s appalling ban may be tangled up in the courts right now, but he’s announced that another executive order on immigration is coming soon. A town hall is a good time to get your MoC to commit publicly to taking action.
- Demanding that Trump release his tax returns. With this week’s revelations about ties between Trump’s inner circle and Russia, this is more important than ever. Congress can make Trump release his tax returns, but they have to act. Push your MoCs to sign Rep. Bill Pascrell’s letter—check out the last set of questions here for more information on what to ask your MoC.