Tomas Martinez, of Atlanta, chants during a rally in front of the White House on July 24, calling for of immigration reform.
(Photo: Evan Vucci, AP)
From USA Today:
As they prepare to leave the Capitol for a month-long August recess, Republican members of the House of Representatives are taking with them legislative summaries and informational packets to tackle tough questions in their districts about immigration.
Supporters of a proposal to revamp the nation’s immigration laws plan to use the recess to pressure House GOP members in their districts to pass a plan like that which passed the Senate in June.
Those in favor of granting citizenship to an estimated 11 million unauthorized immigrants say they will use rallies, marches, coordinated phone calls, social media campaigns and pressure from big-dollar donors.
“This is the beginning of a long, hot summer for the House of Representatives,” said Eliseo Medina of the Service Employees International Union, a labor union that supports the Senate’s immigration bill.
Republicans will also face pressure from Tea Party groups and other opponents of the Senate immigration bill.
“This is a new approach. The theory in the past has been to be stealth about the effort to confront members at town halls — but sometimes it’s been too stealth, and we haven’t generated enough activity,” said Brad Woodhouse, president of the progressive group Americans United for Change. “Since everyone knows that both sides are doing this, we’re going to be public-facing about it.”
On Wednesday, the group is launching Accountable Congress, a new website meant to be a summer toolkit for the progressive community, providing information about where Republican members of Congress and senators will be speaking during the August recess away from Capitol Hill. It includes progressive talking points on issues of the day, including immigration, climate change and gun violence, in addition to suggested questions to ask Republican lawmakers.
Woodhouse said he wants supporters to confront the elected officials, ask them tough questions and record the exchanges. The group plans to share noteworthy responses, and to collect and share information about what Republicans are doing and saying. Americans United has presented its plan to various progressive organizations already and will be holding daily calls with activists to coordinate the strategy.
“We’re also not just focusing exclusively on swings -– whether in the issue or electoral sense,” said Woodhouse. “We’ll try to have a presence at any GOP member event.”
House Republicans are putting together their own August recess playbook. The House Republican Conference has created a 31-page document offering instructions to members for meeting with constituents, promoting the House GOP’s agenda and garnering media attention. It does not, however, advise members on how to deal with confrontational town halls.
Democrats took a thumping during the 2009 summer recess, when lawmakers faced tea party activists at town hall meetings during the height of the health care debate. The party lost control of its message, with the myth of “death panels” often dominating discussions.