During the first five years of our relationship with Republican Congressman Pete Sessions, we reached out in every possible way. We met with his staff five times in Washington, and three times in Dallas. We had a face-to-face meeting with him. We called him, emailed him, and sent him petitions and personal letters from constituents. In all that time, he only took one action toward our policy requests.
Something happened at his town hall meeting in November, 2014 that changed everything. I stepped up to the microphone and publicly asked him to support Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. He didn’t know about this particular resolution, and asked his staff to get the details from me. From then on, we had his attention.
The following year, he met with us twice and signed a congressional letter to President Obama urging robust maternal and child health funding. Soon after, he cosponsored the Reach Every Mother and Child Act. He even published a picture of our group meeting with him in his weekly newsletter.
In talking about the incredible job RESULTS volunteers had done on the Reach Act, Mark Shriver, President of Save the Children Action Network, noted the diversity among members who had signed on. He specifically mentioned a few “unlikely” members such as, you guessed it, Pete Sessions!
When the Reach Act was reintroduced, Sessions took even more initiative on our requests and agreed to sign on as an original cosponsor. In 2016, he signed his first-ever appropriations (spending) letter, in 2017 two letters, and in 2018 three letters. We met with him in August of 2018 and he agreed to do all three things we asked. Persistence, education, and a human touch can have a powerful effect!
We now have a new representative this year, Representative Colin Allred. We met with him for the first time on January 13th, and he agreed to sign the House letter in support of The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria! Hopefully we’ll continue to see his support for this and other important issues we work on. That’s why we are here in Dallas…to build relationships and make an impact on our policymakers. And we’re not giving up!