Your assignment - work on at least one of the sections below. Make progress today, and report any meaningful news, either through comments or private notes. Enlist your contacts and link freely.
Here is the summary. The House bill number is H.R. 685. Go to that page and then click "Cosponsors" to view the 83 cosponsors - you might be surprised. (Darlene Hooley in Oregon?)
The bill has been referred to committee. According to Thomas, it has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee (some think the Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law) and the Committee on Financial Services.
Finally, a group of twenty Democrats have written a letter to Hastert asking for quick movement on the bill, saying, "It is our hope that the House of Representatives will consider this important piece of legislation in an expedited manner." In a way this is worse than being a cosponsor because one gets the sense they are worried about the political cost of due consideration. (Note the signatures that are not on the cosponsor list.) It's a cynical dismissal of their duties as our representatives. Check the bottom of this post for the letter and the list of representatives that signed.
There are a lot of implicit action items in that chunk of information, so let me spell them out.
Email is okay - if you'd rather simply contact your assigned Senators and Rep, you can use our tool (information). Calling is better. Google a rep's name to find their (206) phone number. From the comments:
Also effective are postal letters to their district (non-DC) offices, letters to the editor, and prepared questions at in-district 'town hall' meetings (call the district offices and ask about the schedule).
Keep telling the "Yea" voters what you think of their votes. I really think there is mileage to be won here. Joe Biden has already written a defensive-sounding letter (bugmenot) to the Los Angeles Times defending his vote, so they are feeling heat. Turn it up. Among Biden's points:
In 2001, a similar bill passed the Senate 82 to 16. The provisions affecting consumer bankruptcy were identical to those Chait criticizes.
I'm also curious what Reid's statement will say. Keep asking.
What would be ideal is turning a Senator; getting them to admit they misjudged the opposition and join the call to oppose the bill's movement. So, don't be so rude that you undermine that objective.
I need information on a tool that will enable us to easily send Letters to the Editor to certain targeted newspapers. Barring that, when we identify the correct subcommittees, we will need information on the hometown newspapers of representatives, and the address to write or email to.
Conservatives, call Rush and gently register your opposition to the bill while making clear that you are not a plant. Liberals, do NOT call Rush, it's just counterproductive.
Contacting Lou Dobbs is definitely worthwhile as he is already talking about the "assault on the middle class". Getting him to mention politology and the coalition could help build more momentum.
Finally, keep letting us know of visible media mentions of this effort.
I would love to hear about people putting together personal lobbying visits to the offices of their Representatives. From the comments:
Time-consuming but powerful are personal lobbying delegations with the Congressperson -- four to six constituents, ideally people with some weight in the community, even better if they are active in the Rep's party. This will require persistent letter and phone work with the Congressperson's scheduler (see congress.org), as well as recruiting and preparation of the group. They can happen in the DC office or at a district office.
The public doesn't really have a lobbying organization, so it's up to average citizens to set up meetings. Here in Oregon, Wu and Hooley definitely need to be paid a visit, and I'd love to hear of the results.
There are also some interesting musings from a legal perspective about this bill. First, Just One Minute has an idea about a "killer amendment" for the bill. I don't know who to contact in the House about ideas such as these, but I will link to and track efforts from people who want to follow up.
Second, via a private note:
There is one large legal flaw in the bill no one seems to have noticed. The means testing provision separates people by state. Simply put, there's no equal protection under the law. A different standard is applied to citizens from different states. That appears unconstitutional from the start.
The Honorable J. Dennis Hastert
U.S. House of Representatives
H-232, The Capitol
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Mr. Speaker:
We write to encourage you to bring bankruptcy reform legislation to the House floor as soon as the Senate completes its consideration of the bill. The New Democrat Coalition has backed common sense bankruptcy reform in the past and helped in passing the bankruptcy reform bill by overwhelming margins in the House of Representatives during the 108th Congress.
Over the last several years, we have worked to advance reasonable and balanced legislation that would require individuals who have the ability to repay their debts to do so, while preserving the important safety net of bankruptcy under Chapter 7 for those who truly need it. We believe that responsible bankruptcy reform embodies the New Democrat principle of personal responsibility, while at the same time adding important new consumer protections such as requiring enhanced credit card disclosure information and encouraging participation in consumer credit counseling.
It is our hope that the House of Representatives will consider this important piece of legislation in an expedited manner. We stand ready to work with you and our colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pass bankruptcy reform into law.
Rep. Ellen O. Tauscher
Rep. Adam Smith
Rep. Ron Kind
Rep. Artur Davis
Rep. Carolyn McCarthy
Rep. John Larson
Rep. Stephanie Herseth
Rep. Dennis Moore
Rep. Mike McIntyre
Rep. Joe Crowley
Rep. Jay Israel
Rep. David Wu
Rep. Diane Hooley
Rep. Melissa Bean
Rep. Jim Davis
Rep. Harold E. Ford, Jr.
Rep. Ed Case
Rep. Jay Inslee
Rep. Shelley Berkeley
Rep. Gregory W. Meeks
Posted by tunesmith at March 14, 2005 12:11 AM
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