Congress, Climate, & the Desktop Lobbyist
By Bob Schultz.
THE U.S. CONGRESS MAY BE one of the most foot-dragging institutions on the planet with respect to addressing climate disruption, yet we can find some hope in the emergence of the House Climate Solutions Caucus, a bipartisan group of U.S. Representatives that meets regularly to advance climate solutions. In this “Noah’s Ark Caucus,” would-be members must apply to join alongside a colleague of the “other party.” The Caucus has grown in two years from just two south Florida members to 74 legislators, half Republicans, half Democrats.
I find hope, too, as voters are becoming both economically and morally concerned about the effects of climate disruption, and the electorate is adding more climate-conscious young people every day.
We may take encouragement not just from the growing numbers in the Caucus, but also from its achievements. It is forging bipartisan relationships, bringing peer pressure to bear on legislators of both parties to speak out for climate action, and laying the foundation for legislative actions.
To promote both the growth and the constructive accomplishments of the Caucus, the Friends Committee on National Legislation led the Call to Conscience on Climate Campaign, working with the Citizens Climate Lobby, Interfaith Power & Light, and other organizations and individuals. For citizens, this initiative opens a practical way to act on climate (mere lamentations get us nowhere!), to lobby against the climate deniers, and to express our faith by appealing to the conscience and spiritual impulses in our legislators on Capitol Hill.
My role in helping to grow the Caucus started with an email exchange with my Member of Congress’ environment staffer, then an “ask” to Representative Ann Kuster (D-NH-02), during a telephone town hall, to join the Caucus. When she said yes, the next step was to find her a Republican colleague. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO-06) became her Republican counterpart, a good match since the two knew and respected each other from their service on the Veterans Affairs Committee.
After that very satisfying accomplishment, it occurred to me that in the laptop on my desk, in my holiday greetings folder, were dozens of names and email addresses of family members and friends, many of whom, I suspected (correctly!), might be willing, if asked, to encourage their Representatives to join the Caucus. Since last year at this time, I’ve corresponded with around 50 friends and family members in about 40 Congressional districts. As an 82-year-old retired academic, I have friends, relations, former students and colleagues living in a number of Congressional districts across the country. With invaluable guidance from FCNL’s Emily Wirzba, I’ve carried this effort forward entirely from my desktop computer, when I have time, and in the comfort of my study at home.
If you feel the call to join this campaign yourself, you can visit here and to see a sample copy of my invitation to join me in desktop lobbying, please contact me. I’ll also send you tips to how to make these efforts more effective.