U.S. Poverty Weekly Update May 28, 2013

May 28, 2013

These proposed cuts will literally force families to choose between heating or eating. Call your congressman today and urge them to restore these cuts to SNAP in the Farm Bill.

– RESULTS Pioneer Valley (MA) volunteer Meghan Mantler in a May 27 letter to the editor in the Republican

New and Urgent in This Week's Update (Two-Ten-Twenty Actions)

Latest from Washington, DC

Organizational Updates

Got Two Minutes? Call Schedulers about Town Hall Meetings this Week

Senator and representatives are home this week on recess. Many of them will be meeting with constituents and holding town hall meeting. This is a great time to talk to them about protecting anti-poverty policies that help low-income individuals and families. In particular, it’s a perfect time to let members of Congress know how you feel about proposed SNAP cuts in the House and Senate Farm Bills. We have to make the most of these opportunities to let our elected officials know what we think of their performance and what we expect of them going forward.

TAKE ACTION: Take two minutes to call your local or DC schedulers to ask them if your members of Congress are holding any town hall meetings this week. If so, plan to attend and ask a question. You can see sample questions to ask on our Sample Town Hall Questions page of the RESULTS website. You can also check their congressional websites to see if they have any events listed there. Also, ask to be put on their calendar for a face-to-face meeting as soon as possible. You can find DC scheduler names, local contact information, and website links on our Elected Officials page.

If you get a meeting set up or plan to attend town hall meeting, please contact the RESULTS U.S. Poverty staff for help in preparing for it.

Got Ten Minutes? Keep Pressure on Members of Congress to Protect SNAP (May Action)

Thank you to everyone who made calls last week about protecting the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) in the Senate Farm Bill. Here’s the latest on how things went. Debate began on Monday, May 20 and proceeded until the Senate adjourned on Thursday evening. Several hundred amendments have been offered to the bill, making the process slower than leaders had hoped. As you know, RESULTS was most concerned about amendments that impacted SNAP.

Our first priority was supporting an amendment by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) which would have restored the $4.1 billion in funding cut from SNAP in the Senate Farm Bill. Her amendment was voted on last Tuesday and unfortunately was handily defeated 70-26. Despite this setback, Sen. Gillibrand has vowed to push the issue all the way to the conference committee (where the House and Senate resolve the differences in their two bills). The good news is some bad SNAP amendments were also defeated. An amendment by Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) would have enacted $30 billion in cuts to SNAP; it lost 58-40. Also, an amendment by Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) that would turn SNAP into a block grant of money to states was also rejected, 60-36. Unfortunately, one amendment by Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) that imposes a lifetime ban on SNAP benefits for anyone convicted of certain felonies was accepted. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities examines the implications of this amendment.

Your calls have helped stave off some bad policy with regard to food assistance. We need to keep up the pressure. The Senate Farm Bill debate is not over. There are still many amendments to debate, some still damaging to SNAP (for FRAC’s current list of SNAP amendments). We must remain vigilant in urging senators to reject these harmful amendments. We must also push House members to protect SNAP when the House Farm Bill with its $21 billion in SNAP cuts comes up for debate in June.

TAKE ACTION: Take ten minutes to contact your Senate and House offices about protecting SNAP. Urge senators to remain firm in rejecting amendments that would further cut SNAP in the Senate Farm Bill. We must make sure the Senate Farm Bill as strong as possible with regard to SNAP when senators go into Farm Bill negotiations with the House later this summer. Also, if your senator voted in favor of the Gillibrand amendment, please be sure to thank them for doing so.

For House members, urge them to support Rep. Jim McGovern’s amendment to undo SNAP cuts in the House Farm Bill and to reject the House Farm Bill is those cuts remain in the final bill. In addition, ask House members to co-sponsor H.Res 90 opposing all SNAP cuts, if they haven’t already. It currently has 133 co-sponsors.

We have updated the May Action with all the information you’ll need. You can also view the May Laser Talk, which is a sample conversation with a House agriculture aide. You can find the names of agriculture aides on the RESULTS Elected Officials page. If you cannot call, please send an e-mail to the House and Senate urging them to protect SNAP.

Keep up to date on what’s happening with Head Start and child care on our Recent Developments in Nutrition and Health Legislation page and our 2013 U.S. Poverty Campaign Summary.

Got Twenty Minutes? Prepare for Town Halls This Week (May Action)

As mentioned above, the House and Senate are on recess this week. These recesses are good opportunities to interact with members of Congress at town hall events in their home districts. These meetings not only give you the opportunity to get members of Congress to publicly take a position on our issues, it also gives you the opportunity to educate members of the public and correct misconceptions about anti-poverty programs.

RESULTS has long been training volunteers to make the most of these meetings. From how to prepare to what you do when you get to one of these meetings, we’ve been able to help volunteers maximize their effectiveness at these events. Here are a few tips about town halls that can help you (you can find these and other tips for town halls in our Activist Toolkit; also see our PowerPoint for additional guidance):

  • Research your members of Congress. Go into the meeting knowing where you member of Congress stands on the issue.
  • Draft a question using the RESULTS EPIC laser talk. The EPIC laser talk is the perfect format for drafting a concise, powerful question to ask at a meeting. To get you started, we have a list of sample town hall questions for this week’s recess. Come to the meeting having already practiced your question(s).
  • Go in a group. If possible, go to a town hall in a group. Be sure to sit separately and wear distinctive (but not offensive) clothing. This will help you stand out in the crowd and increase your chances of asking a question. Have a series of questions you plan to ask (and prioritize them) in case more than one of you gets called on.
  • Take good notes. Keep an accurate record of what your members of Congress say at the meeting, especially as it relates to poverty. This will be helpful in your follow up with their offices.
  • Get your hand up first, fast, and high. When it’s time for questions, raise your hand quickly and prominently. Get their attention.
  • Stay on message. When asking your question, don’t wander into other subjects. Be brief and direct and be sure to phrase your request in the form of a YES or NO question (e.g. Will you support Rep. McGovern’s amendment to undo the SNAP cuts in the House Farm Bill?).
  • Follow up. Whether you get to ask a question or not, find the staff persons at the event and talk to them. Explain your position on the issue and urge them to tell their bosses to support it. Be sure to take our Lobby Meeting Leave Behind materials with you to give to them, which you can find in the Green Box on our U.S. Poverty Campaigns page. Be sure to get their business cards so you can follow up later about your request.
  • Celebrate. Give a high five to your fellow group members for attending the meeting. Remember, attending a town hall is not just about pushing leaders to support your position; it’s about exercising your rights as a citizen. As RESULTS founder Sam Daley-Harris would say, you are reclaiming democracy.

TAKE ACTION: Take twenty minutes to prepare for town hall meetings this week. Use the tools in our Activist Toolkit to help you get ready. When attending the town hall, lead with questions about SNAP. You can find sample questions on the RESULTS website. The May Action also has information that can be helpful in preparing for one of these events. RESULTS staff person Jos Linn is also available to help prepare you; please contact him at [email protected] if you are attending an event this week.

Even if you cannot attend an event this week or there are no events in your area, please draft up a question and practice it anyway. You never know when you might bump into a member of Congress and have the chance to ask them your question (listen to David Tate’s story from the May RESULTS National Conference Call). Your question will also come in handy in our action for June – stay tuned.

Tell Congress to Protect Head Start and Child Care in the FY 2014 Budget; Participate in Next Week’s Early Learning Day of Action

In mid-April, President Obama released his FY 2014 budget calling for a new initiative to expand early childhood education in America. His proposal would build on the exiting early childhood infrastructure, including Head Start, Early Head Start, and the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), to expand services to all low- and moderate-income children.

The next steps in the budget process will pit the radically different views of the President’s Budget Proposal and the Senate Budget against the House “Ryan Budget.” Last week, that process began when both the House and Senate released their respective budget proposals for discretionary programs (programs that must be specifically funded each year). The Senate will begin with a proposed budget of $1.058 trillion for discretionary programs, which could include funding for the president’s early childhood plan. The Senate’s assumes the sequester will be repealed and complies with the Budget Control Act (BCA), the deficit reduction bill passed in 2011.

The House will be starting at $967 billion. The House number assumes the sequester will stay in effect. The House also destroys the firewall between defense and non-defense discretionary spending that was part of the BCA. When the BCA passed, it set caps on the amount of spending for both defense and non-defense discretionary programs (NDD) in 2013 and 2014; this prevents Congress from increasing defense spending over the cap and then making up the difference by cutting NDD programs deeper. In the FY 2014 plan, the House is choosing to do just that. What this translates to is an 18 percent cut to Labor Health & Human Services (Labor-HHS) programs, which include Head Start and child care. Under sequestration, a five percent cut is forcing classrooms to close and families to lose services. A cut more than triple that amount would be disastrous for low-income children and families.

TAKE ACTION: Urge members of Congress to protect Head Start and child care services in the FY 2014 budget. Use our online early childhood e-mail alert to send your message today.

Also, the Strong Start for Children campaign is working with advocates across the country to coordinate an Early Learning Day of Action on June 5. The goal is to generate as many press-worthy and attention-getting events as possible. The National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) is helping advocates coordinate actions. For more information on how you can participate in the Day of Action, visit the NWLC website for talking points and sample media.

Keep up to date on what’s happening with Head Start and child care on our Recent Developments in Early Childhood Policies page and our 2013 U.S. Poverty Campaign Summary.

President of FRAC to Speak at the RESULTS International Conference

Have you REGISTERED for this year’s RESULTS International Conference? Don’t miss out on this exciting event. We just learned last week that Jim Weill, President of the Food Research and Action Center, will be speaking at this year’s conference. As you know, FRAC is a long-time ally of RESULTS and an invaluable partner in our work to SNAP from budget cuts. We are excited that Mr. Weill will be able to share his insights and advice with us during this critical time for SNAP. Don’t miss him and our other great speakers by registering for the 2013 RESULTS International Conference TODAY!

We also need your help. At the end of our conference Lobby Day on July 23, we’ll be hosting a reception on Capitol Hill. We’d like to have as many members of Congress also attend as possible. We urge you to invite your representatives and senators to attend. Use our customizable invitation on the RESULTS International Conference page to send your invitation today.

Finally, there’s only two weeks left to apply for the RESULTS REAL Change Scholarship. If you know anyone 18-28 years old who is interested in ending poverty, urge them to download and submit their application before June 10. Application submissions are going up so get yours in today.

Quick News

The Nuns Are Back. They’re getting the band back together… and they’re on a mission from God. That’s right – the Nuns on the Bus are back. Last year, sisters from our friends at NETWORK traversed the country in a bus raising awareness about federal budget cuts impacting low-income individuals and families. It was such a success that they’re doing it again starting this week. The Nuns will starting in Connecticut heading down the East Coast, across the south and southwest, and ending in California. This year’s focus is on immigration reform. Help make this another successful tour for the nuns by attending an event when they come to your town. You can find out when and where they’ll be at: www.networklobby.org/bus/events.

How Did your Members Congress Score? The Shriver Center recently released its 2012 Poverty Scorecard, which measures how members of Congress voted on the most significant poverty-related legislation in 2012. This provides valuable information about where your representatives and senators stand on the issues and can be helpful in face-to-face meetings and town hall events. Check out the scorecard to see how your members of Congress did.


Join RESULTS Intro Call This Friday. If you or someone you know would be a great advocate for the end of poverty, invite them to attend one of our RESULTS Introductory Calls. These 30-45 minute calls provide a brief overview of RESULTS and information on how you can get involved. The next call this Friday, May 31 at 1:00 pm ET. People can register at www.tinyurl.com/RESULTSMeetandGreet/.

Building Bipartisan Champions. Do you have a story of a successful meeting with a member of Congress you thought would be significantly opposed to our issues? By contrast, do you have a member of Congress you're working with, but you're struggling to find common ground? We'd like to talk with you. Please contact Lisa Marchal, Senior Global Grassroots Associate, for help and for ways that your stories and questions can help others at the International Conference and beyond. 

We Work in Groups for a Reason. Summer can be a very busy time, which means it's a great time to reach out to another member of your group and support each other to take action. We all know that connecting and working with others is one of the main pillars of RESULTS’ success. Do you have a laser talk/writing partner in your group? Or maybe a town hall event partner? This is a great time to take action, write and practice together! Do I hear the call for RESULTS group BBQ? Picnic? Pancake Breakfast? Let's stick together and get together through the summer months – our caring and dogged persistence makes all the difference!

RESULTS Activity Calendar

(See a complete calendar on the RESULTS website)

Upcoming Congressional Recesses: House and Senate: May 27 – 31. Request face-to-face meetings.

Friday, May 31: RESULTS Introductory Call, 1:00 pm ET. Register for this or another Intro Call at www.tinyurl.com/RESULTSMeetandGreet/.

Saturday, June 8: RESULTS U.S. Poverty National Conference Call, 12:30 pm ET. Listen to previous conference calls online.

Monday, June 10. Deadline to apply for the RESULTS REAL Change Scholarship to the RESULTS International Conference.

Wednesday, June 26: RESULTS Orange County (CA) outreach meeting. For more details, contact Jos Linn at (515) 288-3622, [email protected].

Saturday, July 20 – Tuesday, July 23: 2013 RESULTS International Conference, Washington, DC. Register today!

RESULTS Contact Information

Main Office: (p) (202) 783-7100, (f) (202) 466-1397, 1730 Rhode Island Ave, NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20036. If mailing a donation to our DC office, please address the envelope to the attention of Cynthia Stancil.

RESULTS U.S. Poverty Legislative and Grassroots Support Staff:

  • Meredith Dodson, Director of U.S. Poverty Campaigns. Meredith is on maternity leave until Labor Day 2013.
  • Jos Linn, Acting Director of U.S. Poverty Campaigns, (515) 288-3622, [email protected]
  • Jenny Martin, U.S. Poverty Grassroots Organizer, New England, (413) 772-9596, [email protected]
  • Myrdin Thompson, U.S. Poverty Grassroots Organizer, South, (502) 295-1315, [email protected]
  • Ann Beltran, U.S. Poverty Volunteer Lobbyist, [email protected]
  • Cindy Changyit Levin, Grassroots Development Associate, (773) 236-7758, [email protected]

The RESULTS U.S. Poverty Update is sent out every Tuesday via email to RESULTS volunteers and allies all over the country. The purpose of these updates is to inform and activate RESULTS activists to take action on our U.S. poverty campaigns.

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