Group Leader ResourcesLocal Organizing

July Recess Action Plan


Overview

Up until this week, it looked like the Senate version of TrumpCare was moving rapidly towards a vote. Because of your pressure, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell does not have the votes he needs to pass the bill. The Senators that YOU have been pressuring are the ones who will not commit to a vote on this bill.

Your constituent power is working. After consistent pressure and a coordinated action across Maine, Senator Collins is saying she’s a NO to TrumpCare. Groups across Ohio did die-ins across the state and even drove to DC to confront Senator Portman—and since then, he has come out against TrumpCare. While Indivisible groups in Alaska were doing a sit-in at Murkowski’s office, Senator Murkowski expressed her hesitation about voting for TrumpCare.

The fight against TrumpCare isn’t over. Now that the vote has been delayed until after 4th of July Recess, Indivisible groups across the country have another opportunity to confront their MoCs about this horrendous bill.

We need to double down during recess. Since this recess is over Fourth of July weekend, there will be many opportunities to confront your MoCs about their position (or lack thereof) on this bill.

Everything you did over the last few weeks brought us to this point where the vote has been delayed. Keep standing indivisible. Together, we will win.

Strategy

Our strategy—putting constituent pressure on every Senator to vote no on TrumpCare—is working. We’ve delivered a big blow to TrumpCare, but over the next couple of weeks Mitch McConnell will be actively trying to win over Republican Senators. We need to keep pushing back.

We need to shore up no votes for Senators that have publicly come out against TrumpCare. McConnell is putting a lot of energy into sweetening the pot to win over these Senators to support the bill. Whatever he offers, these Senators need to know it’s not worth it.

For the Senators who have given a lighter no or acknowledge they would vote against a “Motion to Proceed,” constituents need to get a firmer commitment to vote against TrumpCare.

For the Democrats who are definitely voting against TrumpCare, first take a moment to thank them for standing strong and playing hardball. Then, ask them to hold strong especially as McConnell is starting to make noise around a bipartisan bill.

Though the TrumpCare Ten states will continue to be some of the most vulnerable senators, every single Senator is important in this fight. Keep up the pressure—it’s making the difference.

Tactics

Only a few Republicans have Town Halls planned for this upcoming recess. Luckily, there are other ways constituents can be sure their voices are heard this recess. The tactics for this recess are attending MoC Public Appearances, continuing to drive calls and doing District Office Visits.

Don’t forget to register all your events on our website once they’re planned to get out the word. Also, Ultraviolet has been a great and strategic partner with us in all of our sit in events so far. As you register events for this recess, whether a public appearance, a district meeting or anything else you've already got planned, post those events at this site as well to recruit Ultraviolet members to your event!

Public Appearances

Even if your MoC doesn’t have a town hall planned for recess, many MoCs will have schedules filled with parades, festivals and more. These are a fantastic opportunity ask your questions about TrumpCare.

There are various types of Public Appearances that MoCs can make. Some of these will be at events that are open to the public—like parades or BBQs. Others will be closed door—like private fundraisers or receptions.

Members of Congress have all types of public appearances, including:

  • Fairs, parades and barbecues: Indivisible groups have done a great job of getting in the spirit of these family-friendly events and still getting their message across.
  • Fundraisers and local party events: Groups have gotten really creative to make themselves heard outside high-dollar fundraisers. (Kayaktivism!)
  • Closed-door receptions with business leaders: Groups have rallied outside closed-door receptions with local business groups.
  • Tours and photo-ops at local projects that receive federal funding, like bridges and public buildings.

Whatever the event, these are all great opportunities to make your voices heard. We have a ton of resources at recess.indivisibleguide.com, including scripts, explainers, and sample questions. Here are just a few to get you started:

  1. The Senate’s TrumpCare bill and is even worse than the House version. The CBO says 22 million people will lose their health insurance through this bill. This is unacceptable. Your job is to protect the interests of your constituents. I am one of those constituents and I demand that you vote against this bill. Will you promise me that you:
    • ...won’t vote for a bill that would lead to millions of Americans losing their health coverage?
    • ...won’t vote for a bill that makes cuts to Medicaid?
    • ...won’t vote for a bill that defunds Planned Parenthood?
  2. Can you guarantee that any replacement plan will cover AT LEAST as many people that would be covered under the ACA? Can you guarantee that no one will lose their coverage as a result of your vote?
  3. I [or someone I know] has “x” condition and I’m afraid that I [they] will be unable to obtain affordable health coverage because of my [their] pre-existing condition. I want to know if you can assure me that I’ll be able to get the same consumer protections as the ACA, including for a pre-existing condition?
  4. [For Democrats] Republicans are dead-set on passing their TrumpCare bill. I’m glad that you oppose but I expect you to do more. Will you continue to “withhold consent” and shutdown the Senate until and unless Republicans abandon their repeal efforts? Will you also promise to “filibuster-by-amendment” if the bill comes to floor?

Indivisible Groups in Action

Before the Event

  1. Do your research. Some events may not be widely advertised, or they may be announced with very little lead time to plan. Here are some ways to keep your ear to the ground.
    • Call and ask. Call the congressional office and ask if your Senator or MoC has any upcoming events planned. If they don’t mention any, ask them the best way to find out. You may get mixed results, but it’s worth a try.
    • Find out what events they went to last year. Do a Google News search. Check the Press Releases section of their website and scroll back to last summer. Check their Instagram accounts. (Yes, many MoCs are on Instagram!)
    • Tune into interviews. Be on the lookout on your MoC’s social media account for upcoming interviews with local press. Does your MoC do the same radio show whenever they come home? Have someone tune in. Interviewers may ask a guest about upcoming events they have planned, right at the end. Make sure Google Alerts are working. You can also check out Talkwalker.
    • Say hello to your friend networks. Restaurants, venues and caterers may hear about events like fundraisers before they’re announced.
    • Sign up for all mailing lists. Make sure you’re signed up for your Senator’s E-Newsletter on their official website. Have someone sign up on local party groups’ email lists too, so you can keep an eye out for fundraisers.
    • Re-connect with Indivisible groups and partners around the state. Your MoC may go out-of-district for fundraisers and other events, so it will help to compare notes.
    • Say hello to local media. Now is a great time to reach out to media contacts that you’ve had a friendly exchange with in the past. Be sure to include bloggers, Patch.com writers, and campus papers. Re-introduce your group and what it’s about. Remind them that recess is coming up, and you’re available to comment on any upcoming appearances. They may end up tipping you off. (Even if not, it’s good to touch base with local press now and then to maintain the relationship and so you’re top of mind for them when seeking comment.)
  2. Meet with your group. During a regular meeting (or if you need to do a conference call since this recess is so soon, that’s ok too!) set aside time to plan for attending these public appearances.
  3. Select events to attend. Which of the events that you have identified would be best for your group to attend? Plan to go to as many as you can!
  4. Get commitments to attend each event. Have folks at the meeting commit to the events they’ll be able to attend.
  5. Designate volunteer roles. Determine what each event attendee will be responsible for. A few roles that you can use are:
    • Action Coordinator: This is the point person for the entire event and will make sure all the trains are running on time.
    • Speakers: It’s important to make sure you determine in advance which group members will be asking your MoC questions at the events. Because these public events often don’t have portions dedicated to constituent comments or questions, make sure everyone is rehearsed in our top ask for this Senator; you may only have one person get a chance!
    • Social Media Captain: This person will make sure to capture a video of everything your MoC says at the event—and post it on social media. Remember to film in horizon, and share your content to stories@indivisibleguide.com.
    • Press Liaison: Your group should be sure to let the press know why you’re at this event—your group wants access to your MoC—so designate someone to seek out and talk to reporters covering the event.
    • Research Coordinator: This person will be in charge of making sure the research work above gets done. It may take teamwork to keep extra eyes on your MoC online and in the media. Have your coordinator share the load with teammates.
  6. Determine your message. You’ll need to have one clear message for these events since you won’t have much time to speak with your MoC. This should be TrumpCare focused; discuss with your group the exact ask you’ll be making.
  7. Gather materials. A few essentials are signs, phones with cameras, recording device (you can also just use your phone), snacks, water and anything else you expect you’ll need at the event.
  8. Recruit attendees from your team. Let your group members know by email, calling and texting that you’ll be attending this event. Consider how public you want your plans to be—in some cases it may be better to keep your plans more quiet than usual.

During the Event (Open Event)

  1. Gather a few minutes before the event begins with your group. Set a meeting point in advance and make sure all of your expected attendees have arrived. Take a few minutes to review your plan and get everyone on the same page.
  2. Be visible. You should come prepared to make your presence known—whether you have posters, t-shirts or other visuals. You may want to identify a few folks who will be less visible so they can more easily approach the MoC or can stick around if the rest of your group is asked to leave.
  3. Be prepared to interrupt. There likely won’t be a Q&A at these events since they’re meant as more of a photo op. Your speakers should be ready to interrupt and speak loudly.
  4. Stick to one message. You likely won’t have a lot of time to speak, so work with your group ahead of time to determine your message. Your questions and comments should be direct and around the specific message—in this case TrumpCare.
  5. Be respectful, but persistent. Your MoC didn’t come to this event to answer questions, so they will likely try to shut you down. Keep it up and have your group prepared to back one another up. Prepare specific targeted chants and refrains to drown out the MoC until you get an answer to your question.
  6. Find your opportunity. At some events there will be a rope line or a meet & greet. This is a fantastic moment to ask your MoC a question. Make sure the camera is rolling and seize the opportunity to have a face to face conversation about TrumpCare.
  7. Take videos and pictures. Whether or not your MoC gives you an answer, make sure to get a video of how they respond to your questions. This way they’ll be accountable to what they say.
  8. Push out images and videos on social media. Make sure your Social Media Captain is tweeting, posting on Facebook, Instagram and other social media. Remember to tag @IndivisibleTeam and local reporters.

During the Event (Closed Door Event)

  1. Gather a few minutes before the event begins with your group. Set a meeting point in advance and make sure all of your expected attendees have arrived. Take a few minutes to review your plan and get everyone on the same page.
    • Find your window to enter. Each closed door event will look different, but there are a variety of ways you can get inside.
    • Is it a fundraiser? If your group is able, consider making a donation—it will be worth it to finally confront your MoC.
    • Is it an event with business or community leaders? Find out who you know that’s invited that you can go with.
  2. Try to get into the event. This will likely require some advanced planning, but even for closed door events there are ways to get inside. Remember, you’re entitled to have access to the people who represent you.
  3. If you get in to the event, keep it sneaky until you’re ready: There aren’t likely to be planned opportunities for questions or statements, so look for an opportune time to stand up to ask your question. It might be tough to find the right moment, so be prepared to just go for it.
  4. Identify and try to speak with reporters. Be respectful and friendly, and stick to your message. For example, “Since Congresswoman Sara won’t host public events with us, we’re here to remind her that her constituents are opposed to the Administration’s attacks on immigrants.”
  5. If you can’t get in, optimize visibility. If members of your group are able to go into the event, great! If not, make your presence known outside the event.
  6. If you haven’t gotten in, keep an eye out for your MoC. At some point the MoC will have to leave the event. Make sure your Speakers are prepared to ask a question as the MoC walks away. As always be respectful and persistent. Be careful not to physically block or get in the way of the MoC.
  7. Push out images and videos on social media. Throughout the event it’s crucial to take videos and pictures. Make sure to tweet and post on Facebook as the event goes on and especially any quotes from your MoC.

After the Event

  1. Send your pictures and highlights to stories@indivisibleguide.com. We want to help amplify the great work your group is doing.
  2. Debrief with your group. Find time to discuss went well and what can go better next time.
  3. Celebrate success. Congratulate participants on a job well done (and make sure to sign everyone up for the next event too!).

A note about staying on message

Calls

The phones in district offices across the country have been ringing off the hook—we need to keep up this pressure and drive even more calls. Senators in several states have shared that they are getting hundreds of calls against this bill in a given day, and almost zero calls in favor. These calls continue to provide the single most straightforward demonstration of how little the public likes this bill available to Senators...almost like a daily public poll.

Urge group members to make calls each day, and maximize your impact by sharing contact information for your MoC in as many venues as possible. It is more powerful if you call the Senate staffer handling health care for your Senators. We’ve posted the contact info for all of the staffers here to help you out. This is how you do it:

  • Call your Senator’s DC office and ask to speak to the health staffer BY NAME. Tell them that you have questions for them about the health care bill. After verifying that you’re a constituent, the person on the phone will do everything they can to keep you from talking to the health staffer. Don’t let them!
  • Tell them that you are a constituent and that you DEMAND to be put you in touch with the health staffer.
  • Keep calling! If you are unable to connect over the phone with the staffer, send them an email with your asks.

Set a goal for yourself, let folks know your goal and ask them to confirm for you when they call. (Bonus Tip: for folks who are particularly enthusiastic, ask them to set their own goal for driving calls!)

Driving more calls:

  1. Set a goal: think through the number of people you know (outside of the Indivisible group you work with) who would be willing to make calls. Make a list. Set a goal of getting half of them to make calls.
  2. Email the script to your friends: write a quick note to your friends (feel free to use the language above under “Overview”), and share the script. Tell them you’ve set a personal goal of driving x calls, and ask them to let you know if they call!
  3. Share the script on social media: Write a short note on Facebook and Twitter highlighting the urgency of the campaign and sharing the link to the script below. Set a goal, and ask folks to comment or tweet when they call!Sample post: “The Senate is debating a bill to repeal the ACA in secret, a bill that could steal healthcare from 23 million people. Phone calls can make a big difference, so join me in calling Senators X and Y urging them to vote against this cruel bill. The script is here, comment if you call and let’s make 5 calls today!”
  4. Call through your friends who haven’t made a call: make your calls to your Senator’s office for the day, and then take a minute to call through folks on your list who haven’t made a call yet and ask them to do so. Share why you personally think this is important, and then offer to send them the script and the phone number to call via email or social media. If they agree, ask them to text you when they call. You can call through your list all at once, or just call your Senators and a couple other people a day.
  5. Recruit: Anyone who’s particularly enthusiastic, encourage them to set their own goal and create their own list, and forward them this toolkit. Let’s get them on the team and get them to the next Indivisible meeting!

District Office Visits

Indivisible groups have been doing district offices visits for months now, but it’s critical to keep up the pressure and make sure your MoC and their staffers can count on your group to be there consistently.

Before the Event

  1. Make a plan with your group. During a regular meeting or special planning meeting, review the below steps with your group and divide up responsibilities.
  2. Find the right office. Every MoC lists the physical addresses of their district offices on their public website. You may have to poke around a bit, but it’s there. If you can’t find it, just give them a call and ask—the staff will be happy to tell you locations and hours.
  3. Pick a day to go. Pick a day and time between 9-5 when as many of the members of your group can participate as possible—for example, at the beginning of the day or during lunch hour. As you register events for this recess, whether a public appearance, a district meeting or anything else you've already got planned, post those events at this site as well to recruit Ultraviolet members to your event!
  4. Don’t let “by appointment only” cramp your style. If your congressional office is listed as being open “by appointment only,” you can either call ahead to make one, or you can try just showing up. If you decide to just show up, be ready if the office is closed—plan a creative action your group can take a video of, or take a picture of the closed office and post it to social media.
  5. Decide your “ask” and make it relevant. Congressional staff regularly take meetings with folks who want to talk about stuff that’s happening next month or next year. But a typical staffer can’t see much beyond today let alone beyond the next couple weeks. To make your visit count, focus on what Congress is working on now. This changes constantly, but we’ll be sending out regular email updates with suggestions on some issues to focus on.
  6. Decide who you want to speak with and who from your group will talk. Your MoC likely won’t be in the local office, although you never know. The best person on his or her staff to meet with is the District/Office Director. You should first ask to meet with the MoC directly, and only accept a meeting with the District Director if the MoC is unavailable. They may try to get rid of you—don’t take “no” for an answer. If you show up in a group, they will be more likely to see you. Don’t let them pawn you off to an intern—they will try.
  7. Assign speaking roles within your group so that individuals are prepared to cover the points they want to cover ahead of time. If you’re focusing on an issue that personally affects members of your group, then prioritize having them speak (if they are comfortable talking about it).

AT THE OFFICE

  1. Establish your legitimacy. Introduce yourselves and your group. Identify yourselves as constituents and talk about where in the district or state you live.
  2. Say what you stand for. For example, you could say that you are standing indivisible against the corruption, authoritarianism, sexism, and racism of the new administration.
  3. Stand Indivisible...literally. Many offices have been trying to break up large groups by bringing 3 or 4 people inside at a time. They’re trying to divide and conquer—the office thinks this will soften the impact of your protest. Don’t let them get away with it! If congressional staffers try this, demand that they bring everyone inside or have them send the MoC outside to meet with you there.
  4. Focus on one issue. Right now, the repeal of the Affordable Care Act is one of the primary issues before Congress. You could say something like this: “We are very concerned that Republicans are trying to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, leaving 30 million Americans without access to health care. Where does the representative/senator stand on this issue? What is s/he doing to stop this from happening?”
  5. Tell your stories. If this issue would affect you, your family, or your friends and neighbors, talk about how and why.
  6. Don’t settle for non-answers. If congressional staff are dodging your question— if they say they have to check back and respond to you—be polite but firm. For example, you might say “I’m disappointed that Senator Myers hasn’t taken a position on this—health care coverage for 30 million people is a serious matter. We’ll be watching to see when he takes a position, and we’ll be back to let him know how we feel about it at that point.”
  7. Close the meeting by planting your flag in the office. Not literally! But your MoC works for you. Say you will be coming back regularly to make sure the MoC is listening to you and representing his or her constituents. Get the contact information of everybody you talk to, and send a follow up email after.
  8. Record it or it didn’t happen. Get a picture of your group at the office. Even better yet, get a video of your group before, during, and/or after. See the media cheat sheet for more details on how to do it and why it’s so important. Bottom line, your voice will be louder and better heard if you get documented evidence. If you’d like us to help amplify, send your media to stories@indivisibleguide.com. Include these three pieces of info in that email:
    • Short description of photo/video
    • Name of group with applicable links to social or web
    • Names of people in the video/picture

After your Visit

  1. Post photos and videos on social media. Send your pictures to stories@indivisibleguide.com as well.
  2. Send a thank you letter. Particularly if you have a meeting with your MoC, send a thank you letter, reiterating briefly the main ask you discussed and thanking everyone for their time.
  3. Debrief with your group. Discuss what went well and what you can do better next time.
  4. Plan your next action. Figure out how you’ll keep up the momentum moving forward.