Foreign PolicyGun Violence PreventionTax & Budget

March Recess Policy Priorities and Town Hall Questions


Remember, your members of Congress work for you. And given the bad votes they’ve taken recently—and what’s ahead on the Congressional agenda—they need to hear from you when they’re back home over recess. Both the House and Senate will be off from March 24—April 9, which means you have another opportunity to hold your MoC accountable and build momentum going into election season.

Policy Priorities

You should always make sure to discuss with your MoCs the things that matter most to you. (For example, you might be worried that Trump will soon fire Special Counsel Mueller. We are too, and we're ready to respond if he does that. Click here for our resource on protecting Mueller.) We’re suggesting these issues because we think this is where your groups can have the most impact on the things Congress is working on right now—and there’s a lot going on. We’ve included sample town hall questions to help you pressure your MoCs.


Prevent Congress from Deregulating Wall Street

The Senate voted 67-31 to roll back many of the protections in the Dodd-Frank financial reform law that Congress passed in the wake of the 2008 economic meltdown. 17 Democrats joined 50 Senate Republicans in voting for the deceivingly-titled “Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (S. 2155).”

This “Bank Lobbyist Act” puts us at risk of another financial crisis, allows racial discrimination in mortgage lending to go unchecked, and erodes key consumer protections. CBO says it will increase the likelihood of future taxpayer-funded bank bailouts. It gives new benefits to some of the biggest banks in America and even foreign banks like Deutsche. And the Republicans didn’t give anyone the chance to offer amendments to the bill to fix these problems—not even a Senator from their own party.

The Senate took this vote in the name of “helping community banks,” but it goes much further than that. The Bank Lobbyist Act favors banks over people and allows the same risk in our financial system that the Wall Street reform law eliminated—risk that caused the financial crisis. If Senators wanted to pass a community banking bill, they could pass a community banking bill. This is not it.

This fight isn’t over. The House will have to pass its own version of this bill, and the top Republican on the House Financial Services Committee, Jeb Hensarling, doesn’t think this bill is conservative enough. That means it will be even worse when it comes back to the Senate for a vote—and your Democratic Senator, whether they supported the bill or not, needs to know that’s not acceptable.

Tell your Senator not to make this bill any worse—and if that happens, they need to vote no.

Sample town hall questions

For Republican and Democratic Senators who voted yes on S.2155 (click here to see how your Senator voted)

  • On March 14—the 10-year anniversary of the day that Bear Stearns collapsed and triggered a global financial crisis that we are still recovering from—you voted to roll back regulations on some of the biggest banks in America. Once the House is done with their version, the bill will likely be even worse. Will you commit to voting NO on any version of the banking bill that repeals additional consumer protections and makes even more concessions to banks?

Keep Haspel and Pompeo Out of Trump’s Cabinet

Trump just appointed a war criminal to lead the CIA. On March 13, 2018, a flurry of announcements and tweets revealed a shakeup in Trump’s administration. Rex Tillerson is out at the State Department. He’s being replaced by Mike Pompeo, who until now has been Trump’s head of the CIA. That leaves an open position to lead the spy agency - and Trump has given it to Gina Haspel.

Gina Haspel personally helped torture detainees in a secret CIA-run prison in Thailand during the Bush administration. She oversaw brutal treatment of detainees, and then made sure the video evidence was destroyed. She even wrote out instructions to use industry-strength shredders to demolish the tapes, and advocated burning the entire site to the ground. Trump wants to bring torture back, and he just hired someone who could help him do it.

We can block Gina Haspel’s confirmation. Gina Haspel belongs in prison, not leading the CIA. We expect that Republican senators McCain and Paul will oppose her confirmation, meaning that if Democrats stick together, they can block her confirmation. Make sure that your senators hear from you that you expect them to vote against Haspel for CIA Director.

As for Mike Pompeo, Trump brags that they are very similar. If Pompeo is confirmed to be our top diplomat, he will help export Trumpism internationally. Mike Pompeo has displayed anti-Muslim bigotry, spouted dangerous warmongering, opposed diplomacy with Iran, and denied climate change poses a national security threat.

We are all less safe if Pompeo and Haspel are confirmed. Tell Senators to reject them.

SAMPLE TOWN HALL QUESTIONS

For Senators

  • Trump has nominated Gina Haspel to lead the CIA. Haspel ran a CIA black site in Thailand during the Bush administration, where detainees were tortured. She also helped destroy the video evidence. She is a war criminal and should be in jail, but instead Trump wants to give her a promotion. Will you commit to publicly opposing her nomination?
  • Trump has said he thinks the United States should use torture again, and now he has nominated an actual torturer to run the CIA. Do you believe that torture is illegal in all circumstances, and will you publicly say that no one who participates in torture should be in the federal government?
  • Mike Pompeo is not suited to serve as the top diplomat. He has shown support for torture, denied climate change, embraced anti-Muslim bigotry, and worked to undo Iran diplomacy. Will you publicly commit to opposing Mike Pompeo’s nomination to lead the State Department?

For Representatives in the House

  • Even though you cannot vote on Gina Haspel or Mike Pompeo’s nominations, you still have a powerful platform that you can use. Will you publicly state that Gina Haspel and Mike Pompeo are unfit to be in the United States cabinet, and urge the Senate to reject their nominations?

Accountability for the GOP Tax Scam

Republicans are running scared from their “marquee legislative achievement.” After months of claiming that the GOP Tax Scam would save them from the blue wave this November, the Republicans propping up Rick Saccone’s campaign in the special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th congressional district completely stopped talking about the bill for the last weeks of the campaign—because it was a losing strategy.

Clamming up couldn’t save them. Connor Lamb won a shocking victory in that race because voters understand that the Tax Scam was not a middle-class tax cut—it was a handout to the wealthy and corporations that Republicans want to use as an excuse to cut Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.

If we want to win this November, we need everyone to know who the GOP Tax Scam is really for. Corporations have announced a record amount of share buybacks to benefit their shareholders, with only a drop in the bucket going to workers. Republicans are talking about the need to cut critical programs to bring down the deficit (which they exploded with the GOP Tax Scam) while they’re reaping huge personal tax benefits from the bill that they passed.

Your MoC needs to hear about how you feel about their vote for the Tax Scam. Republicans need to know that it won’t save them this November, and Democrats need to know that you expect them to repeal it when we retake power.

Sample town hall questions

For all Republican MoCs

  • We know that many MoCs got a tax cut from the new tax law, but we can’t know how much if all we have is your public financial disclosure. So that I can compare my tax cut to yours, will you release your tax returns? If not, why not? Will you at least tell us how much money you got back in your paycheck this month?
  • For the first part of the year, you and other Republicans were talking about how great it was that workers were getting bonuses from the tax bill. Well, the numbers are in and workers got less than 1% of the benefit that went to shareholders in the form of share buybacks. Why did you support a tax bill that we all knew would benefit corporations and shareholders over workers and the middle class?
  • In early March, Speaker Paul Ryan proposed creating a commission to “fix” Social Security—which we all know is code for benefit cuts. Yet in the tax bill, Paul Ryan, with your help, voted to add $1.5 trillion to the deficit to give tax cuts that primarily flow to the top 1% and corporations. Why is there money for tax cuts for the wealthy, but not money for Social Security?

For all Democratic MoCs

  • The Republican tax bill is bad policy, and as we learned in PA-18 it’s bad politics too. We need a tax code that promotes equality and strengthens federal programs—not the regressive mess that the Republicans passed last year. Will you commit to repealing this law when Democrats retake your chamber of Congress?

Stop the NRA’s Top Priorities

Since the February 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County, Florida, the national conversation about gun violence prevention has shifted. The student-led #NeverAgain movement, among others, has demanded that politicians buck the NRA and stop hiding behind “thoughts and prayers.” Republican MoCs are unlikely to take proactive steps to stem the tide of gun violence, but we can demand that they stop rubber-stamping the NRA’s Congressional agenda.

The Senate will likely take two votes this year that would be gifts to the NRA:

First, the Senate is expected to take up H.R. 38, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, which the House passed last year. Under this legislation, states would be required to recognize other states’ standards governing the possession of concealed firearms in public. This legislation is the NRA’s “number one legislative priority” and, if enacted into law, would cause a race to the bottom on gun safety standards.

Second, they will consider the nomination of Howard C. Nielson, the NRA’s favorite lawyer, to a lifetime federal judgeship. Trump has nominated Nielson to a cushy seat on the United States District Court for the District of Utah. Nielson is one of the NRA’s go-to attorneys, who has made a career out of regularly representing the NRA and fighting against common-sense gun safety measures.

Every single Senator needs to go on the record opposing both the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act and Howard Nielson’s nomination. The gun lobby has wielded power over Washington for too long—it’s time to shift the terms of the debate over gun violence prevention. This year, that means stopping the NRA’s priorities on Capitol Hill—then committing to #VoteThemOut in November.

Sample town hall questions

For all Senators

  • The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act is the NRA’s “number one legislative priority.” It would override existing state laws, and mandate that every state recognize concealed carry standards from other states. This bill would cause a race to the bottom on gun safety standards, and after watching so many people die in mass shootings we will not stand for additional concessions to the NRA. Will you publicly commit to opposing the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act?
  • The Senate is set to consider the nomination of Howard C. Nielson to a lifetime federal judgeship later this year. Nielson is one of the NRA’s go-to attorneys, who has made a career out of regularly representing the NRA and fighting against common-sense gun safety measures. Will you publicly commit to vote no on Nielson’s nomination to a lifetime seat on the district court?

For House Representatives who voted FOR the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act (click here to see how your MoC voted)

  • I’m really disappointed that you voted in favor of H.R. 38, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act. We don’t need gun laws that cater to the lowest common denominator, especially when this bill in particular would make it easier for dangerous people to carry loaded, concealed guns in public places. How can you justify siding with the NRA over us, your constituents? Will you commit to voting against any further bills that would weaken current gun safety laws?

Protect Net Neutrality

Members of Congress are feeling the heat on the Congressional Review Act resolution to protect net neutrality. On February 27, there was a nationwide push by grassroots groups and MoCs to push for a Republican Senator to join Susan Collins and be the #OneMoreVote we need to pass the CRA in the Senate.

Momentum is building for net neutrality in Congress, but we’re still a long way away from winning. Over 150 House Democrats have signed on to Congressman Mike Doyle’s resolution, but even if every Democrat signs on we’ll still need at least 24 Republicans to join them for the resolution to advance in the House.

Net neutrality is a great example of why we need to take back power at the federal and state level. In states with Democratic governments, legislatures and governors have acted swiftly to ensure ISPs don’t get to block or throttle content—such as Washington state, where Governor Jay Inslee signed the nation’s first state-level net neutrality bill in early March.

Tell your MoC that you expect them to protect the free and open internet by supporting the net neutrality CRA—and if they won’t, you’ll replace them with someone who will.

Sample town hall questions

For all Republican members of the House

  • Over 150 members of the House have already agreed to co-sponsor Representative Mike Doyle’s CRA resolution to overturn the FCC’s net neutrality rollback. Allowing the FCC to overturn net neutrality protections will erode our digital civil rights, and open the door to censorship of the internet.  Will you commit to supporting Representative Doyle’s discharge petition and resolution of disapproval to protect net neutrality?

For all Republican Senators besides Sen. Susan Collins

  • 50 Senators have already signed on to Senator Ed Markey’s CRA resolution to overturn the FCC’s net neutrality rollback. Allowing the FCC to overturn net neutrality protections will erode our digital civil rights, and open the door to censorship of the internet.  Will you commit to supporting Senator Markey’s resolution of disapproval to protect net neutrality?