Articles Tagged POPVOXnation
During the first month of the POPVOX beta launch, I have received several emails from POPVOX users about whether there is value in building support for a bill in the coming weeks when there is little chance it will make progress during the Lame Duck session. Many of these users feel strongly about a specific issue but are realistic -- and know that their concern might not be a priority in Congress any time soon.
Take S. 1579, the Restore Our American Mustangs Act , for example. Before a POPVOX user brought this bill to my attention, I honestly didn't know about it. The legislation aims to improve the management and health of wild free-roaming horses. The bill passed the House, but hasn't moved in the Senate this Congressional session.
This was my suggestion to the user: Despite the fact that this bill hasn't moved in the Senate and the session is almost over, it's still important to build support for the bill. Now is a great time to inform your friends, family and community about important legislative issues so when the new Congress begins its session in January, the groundwork has been laid for the reintroduction of the bill. POPVOX will archive all comments made on bills pending in the 111th Congress (the 2-year “session” that began in January 2008 and will end in the coming weeks) so that a record remains. This record of constituent comments will be useful for policymakers, staffers and media as bills are introduced next year.
The painful truth about moving legislation through Congress is this: if a bill doesn't become a law in a session, it has to start over. It has to be reintroduced in both the House and the Senate, go through the committee process and come to a vote before the floor of each Congressional body. In addition, bills sponsored by Members that will not be returning to Congress will need to be introduced by a new sponsor.
By garnering support for a bill now, supporters alert Congressional sponsors (or potential sponsors) of the bill, and they in turn are more likely to introduce it early on in the two-year session. Early introduction gives advocates and supporters more time to build additional support and secure more cosponsors of the bill, which increases the bill’s chance of passage. In most cases, a bill with strong support from advocacy groups, the public and Members of Congress is far more likely to move through the committee process and to a floor vote.
When I learned about the Restore Our American Mustangs Act, I brought it to the attention of friends of mine that care about horses. None of them had ever heard about the bill. The reality is that most people don't know about the vast majority of bills before Congress. I hope that will change through POPVOX.
I am working to incorporate my lessons learned from years as an advocate and lobbyist into tools available to everyone on POPVOX. In the meantime, if you have questions about advocacy or strategy to move bills through Congress, please do drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am sure there are others wondering the same thing!
(For media inquiries, please contact Marci Harris, POPVOX’s CEO, at email@example.com.)
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