The 2014 August Recess is entering into its final two weeks. Although this August wasn't nearly as busy as last year, there has been many noteworthy stories coming from town halls, or lack thereof.
In 2013, NumbersUSA activists stunned the entire country with their tireless efforts to defeat S 744, the comprehensive amnesty bill. To this day, that awful piece of legislation has not made it to the floor of the House of Representatives.
The summer recess this year started off in an extremely different manner. On August 1st, The House voted to stop President Obama's executive amnesties and to stop the surge of illegal aliens at the Southern border. NumbersUSA asked activists to defend their Representatives who voted for these measures at public meetings. We expected amnesty advocates to be in the front rows bullying lawmakers who put American workers ahead of illegal aliens. But much to our surprise, the open borders crowd has been almost silent this August.
However, our main focus has been pressuring US Senators to call on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to bring the previously mentioned bills to the Senate Floor for a vote and to call on the president to rethink his plans to grant another executive amnesty.
If you've been in the activism game lately, you realize the task at hand. Only 12 Senators have advertised public town hall meetings this month.* And a handful of others had campaign events that NumbersUSA was able to dig up from the clutter of social media pages (these were certainly NOT advertised.)
For example, if you were lucky enough to check Sen. Tim Johnson's (D-SD) Facebook page at the right time, you could have gotten a 24-hour notice that he was holding a coffee meeting.
Oh, and if your Senator happens to be in a tight re-election race, FORGET ABOUT IT! As Politico put it in their piece titled "How not to get lampooned on a political vacation":
"Lindsey Graham is sneaking in some golf — and Mark Warner won’t tell the press where he’s going."
Meanwhile in New Hampshire, Senator Jeanne Shaheen is being followed by a man in a chicken suit over her lack of town halls.
And Huffington Post is projecting The Congressional Town Hall Is On Death's Doorstep.
This is no laughing matter. Town halls do make a difference.
Relying upon my data from last year's S 744 battle:
23% of the Senators who voted for the S 744 amnesty had some sort of in-person meeting with constituents between January 1, 2013 and the vote in June of 2013. On the other hand, 64% of the Senators who voted against the bill had in-person meetings with constituents.
This shows me that the more accessible a Member of Congress is to their constituents, the less likely that Member will be to support amnesty and legal immigration increases. Sure enough, 65% of House Members who we deemed "on the fence" when it came to amnesty had town halls scheduled during last year's August recess.
I'll be back here next week to share feedback and stories from town hall meetings that occurred this month. If you attended a town hall, please let me know how it went by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For the rest of you, I suggest you call, email, fax, and post on social media your demands to lawmakers. Tell them it's time for an open and honest town hall meeting. No one should be able to get away with avoiding his/her bosses for this long, not even a United States Senator.
*Senators Jerry Moran (R-KS), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Tom Coburn (R-OK), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Mike Lee (R-UT), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), David Vitter (R-LA) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA)
MELANIE OUBRE is the Local Activism Coordinator for NumbersUSA
Updated: Tue, Nov 18th 2014 @ 3:22pm EST