Did you know that 45% of Congressman Roger Williams voters live in Travis County?
Austin constituents from Texas Congressional District 25 are hosting a town hall meeting for Congressman Roger Williams in the King-Seabrook Chapel at Huston-Tillotson University on May 13 from 12:00 p.m. (noon) to 2:00 p.m. Doors open at 11:45 am.
If you are a constituent of District 25 and have a personal story that you wish to share regarding fair chance hiring, immigration reform, education, gerrymandering, consumer protection, criminal justice reform or any other political issue, please contact us using this form: https://goo.gl/forms/LvD9i8UFkY4fWoXj2
Let’s gather together in solidarity with dozens of other Indivisible groups across the state on Wednesday evening at dusk for a candle light vigil outside of Lakeway’s Baylor Scott & White regional hospital in support of saving the Affordable Care Act.
Bring a candle- we will have some extras…We will provide the light!
This is a do-or-die moment for the ACA. Exactly seven years to the day of the Affordable Care Act becoming law, the House of Representatives will be voting to repeal it and replace it with TrumpCare—a plan that would lead to 24 million Americans losing their health care.
Republicans are rushing to get this bill through before the upcoming April recess, ignoring the normal legislative process. They are attempting to ram through a TrumpCare bill that will cut coverage for millions and raise premiums for millions more. Their proposal simultaneously guts Medicaid and gives a $600 billion tax break to the wealthy and corporations.
Millions of lives hang in the balance. The House vote, currently scheduled for Thursday, is the first step towards enactment of this devastating TrumpCare bill. Our MoC, Roger Williams, has indicated that he will vote in favor of this bill. His vote could mean the difference between life or death for thousands each year. You need to demonstrate your resolve.
Let’s join together on Wednesday night to show Rep. Williams that we do not condone stripping healthcare from millions of Americans.
Join us for an epic ACLU of Texas fundraiser on 3/25
TX25 Resistance fighters! Join us for an epic ACLU of Texas fundraiser on 3/25. A $20 donation gets you a ticket to a night of free beer + cocktails, bites, live music, activism and good people gathering to support a great cause. 100% of proceeds support the fight for human rights throughout TX.
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*registrants, or active lobbying firm
This table lists the top donors to this candidate in the 2015-2016 election cycle. The organizations themselves did not donate, rather the money came from the organizations’ PACs, their individual members or employees or owners, and those individuals’ immediate families. Organization totals include subsidiaries and affiliates.
NOTE: All the numbers on this page are for the 2015-2016 election cycle and based on Federal Election Commission data available electronically on Wednesday, February 01, 2017. (“Help! The numbers don’t add up…”)
Feel free to distribute or cite this material, but please credit the Center for Responsive Politics. For permission to reprint for commercial uses, such as textbooks, contact the Center.
The first section of this document is a cut-and-paste from the Indivisible Guide, followed by some Austin-specific information from folks who have visited his office before.
District office visit – Indivisible Advice
Every MoC has at least one district office, and many MoCs have several spread through their district or state. These are public offices, open for anybody to visit — you don’t need an appointment. You can take advantage of this to stage an impromptu town hall meeting by showing up with a small group. It is much harder for district or DC staff to turn away a group than a single constituent, even without an appointment.
Find out where your MoCs’ local offices are. The official webpage for your MoC will list the address of every local office. You can find those webpages easily through a simple Google search. In most cases, the URL for a House member will be www.[lastname].house.gov, and the URL for Senate offices is www.[lastname].senate.gov. Roger Williams Austin office address is on private property at 1005 Congress Avenue, Suite 925, Austin TX 78701. http://williams.house.gov/
Plan a trip when the MoC is there. Most MoC district offices are open only during regular business hours, 9am-5pm. While MoCs spend a fair amount of time in Washington, they are often “in district” on Mondays and Fridays, and there are weeks designated for MoCs to work in district. The MoC is most likely to be at the “main” office — the office in the largest city in the district, and where the MoC’s district director works. Ideally, plan a time when you and several other people can show up together. Roger Williams office is open 9:00 – 5:30 on weekdays. The office is small and they have access to an additional conference room, as needed.
Prepare several questions ahead of time. As with the town halls, you should prepare a list of questions ahead of time.
Politely, but firmly, ask to meet with the MoC directly. Staff will ask you to leave or at best “offer to take down your concerns.” Don’t settle for that. You want to speak with the MoC directly. If they are not in, ask when they will next be in. If the staffer doesn’t know, tell them you will wait until they find out. Sit politely in the lobby. Note, on any given weekend, the MoC may or may not actually come to that district office.
Note that office sit-ins can backfire, so be very thoughtful about the optics of your visit. This tactic works best when you are protesting an issue that directly affects you and/or members of your group (e.g., seniors and caregivers on Medicare cuts, or Muslims and allies protesting a Muslim registry). Being polite and respectful throughout is critical.
Meet with the staffer. Even if you are able to get a one-off meeting with the MoC, you are most often going to be meeting with their staff. In district, the best person to meet with is the district director, or the head of the local district office you’re visiting. There are real advantages to building a relationship with these staff. In some cases, they may be more open to progressive ideas than the MoC, and having a good meeting with/building a relationship with a supportive staff member can be a good way to move your issue up the chain of command. Follow these steps for a good staff meeting:
Have a specific “ask” — e.g., vote against X, cosponsor Y, publicly state Z, etc.
Leave staff with a brief write-up of your issue, with your ask clearly stated.
Share a personal story of how you or someone in your group is personally impacted by the specific issue (health care, immigration, Medicare, etc.).
Be polite — yelling at the underpaid, overworked staffer won’t help your cause.
Be persistent — get their business card and call/email them regularly; ask if the MoC has taken action on the issue.
Advertise what you’re doing. Communicate on social media, and tell the local reporters you follow what is happening. Take and send pictures and videos with your group: “At Congresswoman Sara’s office with 10 other constituents to talk to her about privatizing Medicare. She refuses to meet with us and staff won’t tell us when she will come out. We’re waiting.”
Make sure you’re registered to vote – lawmakers check (who knew?)
Know where your representative stands on the issues that matter to you. “If you have contact with an organization that is working on this issue, try to learn if the recipient of your opinion has taken a position on it. When I received letters from people urging me to vote for a bill of which I was the prominent main sponsor, I was skeptical that the writer would be watching how I voted.”
Communicate – even if you and your legislator disagree. “Legislators do not simply vote yes or no on every issue. If enough people in a legislator’s voting constituency express strong opposition to a measure to which that legislator is ideologically or politically committed, it might lead him or her to ask the relevant leadership not to bring the bill up. Conflict avoidance is a cherished goal of many elected officials.”
Say “thank you.” (That is good advice for life in general. 🙂
The office is right in front of the Capitol, so you can easily go by before/after any Txlege visits. Capitol garage parking is free for first two hours.
Before you head downtown…
Plan your specific “ask” ahead of time
Write it down
Leave it with the staffer
Before going to the office…
Huddle with your group at the Starbucks at 10th & Congress
Lay out your game plan
List the topics you will address as a group-keep it simple-prioritize!
The staffers love stories! Stories humanize issues, and nobody can argue with somebody’s story.
Take a picture of your group beforehand. Pics or it didn’t happen! 😉
Entering the building
There may be a security guard at the desk-mostly to handle large groups
Just go right to the elevators. Small groups, won’t have any problems
Large groups should encourage a staffer to come down instead of splitting up
Ninth floor, please!
They may be remodeling the office-expect a mess. They have access to an additional conference room if they decide they need it.
When you enter, they may invite you to sign their guestbook.
John (last name unknown) and Aaron (last name unknown).
John does most/all of the talking. Aaron is the younger, quieter one.
John travels 70% of the time-often to DC
Aaron travels the districtr 50% of the time (but he’s never been to DC)
Hanna, the scheduler in the DC office, may have shared your name John and Aaron
Things John will say, over and over:
‘We’re here to listen.”
“I can’t speak for the congressman.”
“Asked and answered.” (He’ll say this when he’s tired of your questions.)
“The Congressman won the last election.” So what? His job is to listen to all of his constituents, not just the ones he agrees with. Your visit to the office is a four-alarm fire for them! They should be nervous, not you. Don’t let John bully you.
Aaron will be taking notes
Ask him to write down anything that you feel is especially important. Be sure they get the information straight.
Sometimes offices allow attendees to film/take photos. If not, ask why. Write down/remember any answers you’re given.
While you’re there…
Be respectful. BUT…
Persist until your question is answered
Ask for an official response from Williams
Tell them what YOU think and what you expect the congressman to do on your behalf
Be clear that this is important to the group and that you’re not going away
If you have questions, ask them — just be know that staff may deflect. Don’t let this throw you. They may just not know the answer and may not want to broadcast that. Remember, ask for an official response if they can’t answer your question. Write down any answers you’re given.
Be sure to leave behind your talking points, a postcard, a letter, an annotated picture
Be sure each person takes a business card. We may have met there together, but we are each an individual and we expect individual answers to our concerns.
After the meeting
If Aaron asks to photograph your group. You can decline or agree if YOU can take pictures as well. Get a business card from any staff you meet.
Consider filming a short video after the meeting; debrief. Send videos to firstname.lastname@example.org and post to social media, if appropriate.
You just participated in democracy!!! Wahoo!!!! Treat yourself, you deserve it! And thanks. 🙂
Just because recess is over doesn’t mean that we’re quieting down
With Congress back in session this week, it’s time to get back to basics: phone calls and office visits. Let your MoC know that even when you’re not face-to-face with them (or their cardboard cut-out version), you’ve still got a lot to say. Here’s what you can talk to your MoC’s office about this week:
Opposing Trump’s cabinet nominations. Trump’s still is trying to nominate members of his Cabinet (and you helped slow down that process!). This week, check out our scripts for these two nominees—they’re as disastrous as ever:
Keep up the pressure on the ACA, Trump’s taxes, and Russia—the big stuff. You’ve been telling your MoC this all along, but make sure they know you’re not about to let it go:
Defend healthcare. House Republicans are beginning work on their replacement plan—and it’s a mess. Tell your MoC to oppose ACA repeal.
Demand Trump’s tax returns. Donald Trump still refuses to release his tax returns, even as suspicions mount about possible conflicts of interest and ties to Russia. Demand that your MoC sign on to Rep. Bill Pascrell’s letter that would instruct Congress to exercise its legal authority to obtain Trump’s returns.
Here at the Indivisible Guide team, we mostly focus on how you can influence your MoCs’ decision-making, and we believe deeply in the power of that strategy for fighting back against every piece of the Trump agenda. But in light of the horrifying wave of attacks from this administration on immigrant families and communities, we feel that it’s important to ask for an additional commitment: please consider how to take action at the local level to fight back against raids, detention, and deportation. We’ve put together a short guide on steps you can take to stand indivisible with immigrants in your community. We hope you’ll bring the incredible inventiveness and dedication you’ve demonstrated this past week to this urgent challenge.
But we’ve said it before and after this massive week of incredible action, we’ll say it again: this is a marathon, not a sprint. Your energy will be needed in the months ahead, so make sure that you’re taking time to reflect and recharge so that you can be in this for the long haul. Change doesn’t always happen quickly, but with all of us standing indivisible together, it will happen, and we will win.
US Representative (TX 25) Roger Williams appears to be lost. He has not shown up for Town Hall meetings and his office has been closed during recess. The women in this video ask you to join us in defending Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act by phoning your Congress persons today — Rep. Roger Williams, 202-225-9896, Senator John Cornyn, 202-224-2934, Senator Ted Cruz, 202-224-5922. Also, let us know of great candidates as we emerge for 2018. Thank you! Love and peace with justice, equity and diversity on top.
Central Texans Are Holding Town Halls – With or Without Their Local Congressmen
During trips to their districts this week, Republican congressmen representing the Austin area will not be holding town halls, even though many constituents have been asking for them.
That hasn’t stopped groups from holding town halls of their own – even if the member of Congress they want to talk to isn’t there.
In Dripping Springs on Sunday night, activists held one of these town halls. They say they invited Republican U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, but his office declined.
A crowd of people sat on the patio of Flores Mexican Restaurant, eating and carefully writing questions on note cards. They waited for a turn at a microphone facing a podium with American flags draped behind it.
Most of it was pretty standard for a town hall.
Lisa Molina, an Austin resident living in Williams’ district, spoke of her 20-year-old son’s battle with leukemia at ages 3, 11 and 13. She said she was concerned about lifetime caps on health insurance, which was a problem before the Affordable Care Act was passed. Now that Republicans control Congress, many lawmakers, including Williams, are looking to repeal that law.
“My son’s treatment cost reached a million dollars by the time he was 14 years old,” Molina said. “Without the protection of the ACA, it was possible that he could have been denied for the coverage. So, my question is: Do you support keeping these current ACA protections intact?”
But this is where the town hall got weird. Molina wasn’t talking to Williams; she was talking to a cardboard cutout of him. So instead of getting an answer, she heard the sound of crickets throughout the patio.
Those crickets followed questions about Williams’ support or lack of support for investigations into President Donald Trump’s ties to Russia, as well as questions about global warming, and the future of Social Security and Medicare.
Folks who came to the event, though, knew that was the deal going in.
Organizer Erin Zwiener told the crowd to act as if Williams were there. She said they planned on sending a recording of the town hall to his office.
“Show Congressman Williams that he should have been here today,” Zweiner said. “Show him that we are constituents that do not understand the choices he is making in Washington. Be firm, speak your truths, ask tough questions, but also be gracious. Let’s get him to show up next recess.”
According to one of the organizers, almost 250 people signed in for the event. And there were similar ones elsewhere.
Organizers with Indivisible Austin, a group created after Trump’s inauguration, are holding town halls in other congressional districts in the Austin area – with or without the Congressmember.
Vince Zito, a spokesperson for Rep. Williams’ office, said in a statement that “Williams believes in listening to his district and in doing so spends as much time as possible meeting with constituents and groups throughout his district.”
“Congressman Williams will always humbly listen to the thoughts and concerns of all of his constituents – he always has and always will,” Zito wrote in a statement to KUT. “And although he appreciates the invitation, he declines to attend the club meeting of the Dripping Springs Democratic Action and its associated groups. I think if you closely examine the statements and missions of these groups, it’s clear that civil, substantive discourse on issues is not their true agenda. Congressman Williams looks forward to continuing to fight for the issues that his constituents sent him to Washington to fight for, including: real tax reform, strengthening our military and rolling back the job killing Obama trademarks such as Obamacare and Dodd-Frank legislation.”