Newsflash:
Issues ERA 3 State Strategy Member Spotlight PDA Educates Congress One Letter at a Time
Thursday, 24 October 2013 16:02

PDA Educates Congress One Letter at a Time Featured

Written by 
Pamela Powers Hanley and Jessica Floyd, District Director Pamela Powers Hanley and Jessica Floyd, District Director

The US Congress considers several hundred bills each session. Senators and Representatives depend upon staffers and, unfortunately, high-paid corporate lobbyists to dissect the bills, offer summaries, and provide advice. Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) launched the Educate Congress campaign to involve ordinary voters in this often overly complicated and undemocratic legislative process.

PDA began delivering letters to congressional offices in 2010 during the fight over healthcare reform. Originally dubbed "Brown Bag Lunch Vigils" these PDA-organized "street heat" demonstrations evolved into letter drops at Congressional offices. Every month, PDA activists deliver letters asking elected officials to cosponsor and vote for important legislation.

As PDA’s membership has grown, so has the letter drop effort. In 2012, PDA organized an average of 30 letter drops per month at Congressional offices. By July 2013—when PDA pulled out all the stops to fight against billions of dollars in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP aka food stamps)—the letter drop effort had grown to 230 per month. To reinforce and add emphasis to the messages in the hand-delivered, PDA organizes simultaneous demonstrations at district offices, and then follows up with nationwide phone banking after each letter drop.

PDA helped to turn back the GOP-led effort to slash $20 billion from food stamp funding in the summer of 2013. Anti-hunger crusader, Massachusetts Representative Jim McGovern said that PDA “helped Democrats be Democrats” encouraging them to vote against food stamp cuts. “People here [in DC] knew there was a movement out there that was absolutely against gutting the SNAP program,” McGovern said. Referring to future fights over food stamp funding, he added, we’re still “in the game” because of PDA, “You are being heard.”

In late August 2013, when hundreds of Syrian civilians were brutally murdered with chemical weapons and President Barack Obama was calling for military action against the government of Bashar Assad, PDA activists took action. By phone-banking, social media activism, and through street heat, PDA helped to push for aggressive diplomacy, instead of war.

Within days of the President’s decision to seek Congressional approval for military action, PDA mobilized a special Congressional letter drop. PDA activists hand-delivered letters to 151 Representatives and Senators urging them to vote against military action. A second September letter drop two weeks later called for continued diplomatic efforts—not warfare against Syria—and provided information about how the Trans-Pacific Partnership (currently in secret negotiations) would hurt Main Street.

PDA Executive Director Tim Carpenter explained, “The Educate Congress letter drops represent some of the best organizing PDA has done.” He added, “Delivering monthly letters to an increasing number of Congressional offices has not only helped us influence policy decisions—from stopping war with Syria to saving food stamps—it has helped us grow PDA and the new progressive movement nationwide.”

Parallel to the Educate Congress campaign, and integral to its inside/outside strategy, PDA holds Progressive Round Tables each month. PDA invites Progressive Congress members and staffers to join allies from unions as well as peace, labor, environmental, and justice groups to discuss progressive initiatives and legislation. The first Round Table in late 2012 focused on educating Congress regarding the need to protect earned benefit programs—Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment insurance, and supplemental nutrition programs. Recently, Round Tables have been simulcast online and posted to YouTube, providing the general public with essential details on legislation to rebuild America’s middle class by creating jobs, expanding healthcare, raising revenue without raising taxes on or cutting services for the 99%—and more.

PDA’s inside/outside strategy is building our democracy at the grass roots level—one call, one meeting, and one letter at a time. Between July and September 2013, through progressive efforts on multiple levels PDA helped to significantly increase Congressional support for progressive bills. In less than three months, PDA’s letter drops, targeted street heat demonstrations, phone-banking, social media outreach, and DC Round Tables persuaded six Representatives to cosponsor H.R. 1000: The Humphrey Hawkins Full Employment and Training Act; five signed onto H.R. 676: The Expanded and Improved Medicare For All Act; and three agreed to cosponsor H.R. 1579: The Inclusive Prosperity Act (AKA the Robin Hood Tax). “We had drops in all of the districts where we gained co-sponsors for progressive bills.” Director Tim Carpenter noted, “This shows that our hard work is beginning to pay off!”

As Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota noted at a recent Round Table, “These people [House Republicans] believe that plutocracy is the right model for America, and they’re striving to achieve it every day. We believe in democracy.” And so does PDA. More than that PDA is working to promote and protect democracy through progressive people-based action each month nationwide. At another recent roundtable, Rep. Jim McGovern of Massachusetts recognized PDA’s help on opposing cuts to Food Stamps / SNAP and other progressive initiatives saying, “It’s helpful to have wind at your back. You [PDA] are like a hurricane at my back.”

The letter drops at Congressional district offices around the country and the inside-the-beltway Progressive Roundtables are key components of PDA’s Educate Congress efforts. The letter drops take place on the 3rd Wednesday of every month. Progressive Roundtables take place a week or so before that—with a live streaming connection available to the public, and videos posted on PDA’s YouTube channel.

Read 3942 times Last modified on Thursday, 24 October 2013 20:11
Pamela Powers Hannley

I stand on the side of Love. I believe in kindness to all creatures on Earth--not just people who agree with me or look like me. I believe that people who promote religiosity but use violence, intimidation, and lies to force their ideas upon other people are not following the teachings of any religious leader.

I have a bachelor's degree in journalism from Ohio State University and a masters in public health from the University of Arizona. In addition to being a blogger, I am a published author, photographer, clay artist, mother, nana, and wife.

My Tucson Progressive blog and Facebook page feature large doses of liberal ideas, local, state, and national politics, and random bits of humor. I also blog at Blog for Arizona and the Huffington Post. I am a proud member of Progressive Democrats of America (PDA).

More in this category: « The Letter Drop Team

ID Medicaid Expansion Articles

  • Idaho Medicaid enrollment climbs
    Idaho Medicaid enrollment climbs The number of people on Medicaid in Idaho rose almost 6 percent since the launch of Idaho's health-insurance exchange last fall even though Idaho is one of the states that…

NE Medicaid Expansion Articles

MS Medicaid Expansion Articles

VA Medicaid Expansion Articles

AK Medicaid Expansion Articles

WY Medicaid Expansion Articles

MT Medicaid Expansion Articles

UT Medicaid Expansion Articles

ME Medicaid Expansion Articles

LA Medicaid Expansion Articles

SD Medicaid Expansion Articles

TX Medicaid Expansion Articles

AL Medicaid Expansion Articles

WI Medicaid Expansion Articles

FL Medicaid Expansion Articles

GA Medicaid Expansion Articles

SC Medicaid Expansion Articles

  • The High Cost of Saying No
    The High Cost of Saying No Up to eight rural hospitals across the Palmetto State are threatened with closure or outside takeover because the state is not accepting billions of federal dollars to expand Medicaid to…
  • SC is paying a heavy price for rejection of Medicaid expansion
    SC is paying a heavy price for rejection of Medicaid expansion Sadly, opponents of Medicaid expansion are touting South Carolina’s refusal to use federal funds to provide health coverage to more than 300,000 South Carolinians, including nearly 7,800 in Florence County.…
  • S.C. Progressives Turn Their Eyes to Fall Election
    The South Carolina Progressive Network — a driving force behind this year’s Truthful Tuesday protests, which called for the expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare and led to 28 civil disobedience…
  • NAACP: Medicaid expansion should be moral issue
    NAACP: Medicaid expansion should be moral issue The fight to persuade South Carolina's lawmakers to expand Medicaid isn't over, according to a national NAACP executive who was in Aiken on Monday for a town-hall meeting and rally.

ND Medicaid Expansion Articles

NC Medicaid Expansion Articles

MO Medicaid Expansion Articles

ERA Articles

  • ERA Enters 2014 Gubernatorial Campaign

    Last week, State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) bulldozed the measure, Senate Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 75, through the upper chamber 39-11-06, a vote that included two Republicans - Kirk Dillard and Minority Leader Christine Radogno.

    Written on Friday, 30 May 2014 16:03 Read more...
  • Senate Democrats look to revive dormant Equal Rights Amendment
    Senate Democrats look to revive dormant Equal Rights Amendment

    SPRINGFIELD-Senate Democrats plan to make an end-of-session push this week to “rectify an historical wrong” -- and perhaps give women a strong reason to go to the polls this fall -- by putting Illinois on record in support of an Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

    Written on Monday, 19 May 2014 23:16 Read more...
  • Pilgrimage
    Pilgrimage

    Each step I take brings me closer to fulfilling my promise to help pass the Equal Rights Amendment. It’s a promise I made a decade ago to my late mother-in-law, the Rev. Katrina Swanson. (Katrina was one of the “Philadelphia Eleven,” the first group of women to be ordained as priests in these modern times in the U.S., after the Anglican Church of China.) A promise made by my husband and me to her in her last year of life. A promise, indeed a vow, and now a dream moving to reality we will resurrect and see enacted the Equal Rights Amendment.

    Written on Friday, 25 April 2014 00:00 Read more...
  • Congresswoman Speier: The Deadline for Ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment Should be Removed
    Congresswoman Speier: The Deadline for Ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment Should be Removed

    Congresswomen Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo/Redwood City) issued the following statement today after offering a joint resolution to remove the deadline for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. The ERA was introduced into every Congress between 1923 and 1972, when it finally passed and was sent to the states for ratification upon three/fourths approval. Congresswoman Speier’s joint resolution has 109 original co-sponsors.

    Written on Friday, 28 March 2014 02:59 Read more...
  • Group wants ERA ratified
    Group wants ERA ratified

    State Sen. Nina Turner said Saturday that she supports efforts to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment but noted that more work is ahead in reaching equality. The Cleveland-based Democrat was one of several political candidates in attendance during an event hosted by the Progressive Democrats of America at the Adena Mansion & Gardens Visitors Center, where Turner gave a fiery speech to a full crowd about the need to support such a change.

    Written on Monday, 24 March 2014 22:03 Read more...
  • Progressive Democrats to kick off ERA ratification push in Chillicothe
    Progressive Democrats to kick off ERA ratification push in Chillicothe

    A group of Progressive Democrats plans to push for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment with an event here later this month. State Sen. Nina Turner, D-Cleveland, will be the keynote speaker. Turner is the minority whip in the Ohio Senate.

    The group, which also is conducting the event to defend voter rights, also will honor a local woman with an award at the event.

    Written on Wednesday, 12 March 2014 13:35 Read more...
  • Lehigh Valley feminists waged campaign in schools, prison
    Lehigh Valley feminists waged campaign in schools, prison

    One of Mary Larkin's prized possessions is a beat-up, old, wooden cutting board in the shape of a mushroom, but you can't tell by looking at it that it is the product of a revolution.

    It was made by Larkin's daughter Debbie, who was one of the first girls to take shop in Parkland schools after the district relented in the mid-1970s to allow them to forgo home economics and do woodworking instead.

    Written on Tuesday, 11 March 2014 02:52 Read more...
  • Will Virginia be the First State to Ratify Equal Rights Amendment in the 21st Century?
    Will Virginia be the First State to Ratify Equal Rights Amendment in the 21st Century?

    Today SJ 78, a bill to ratify the stalled Equal Rights Amendment, was placed on the docket of the Elections subcommittee in the Virginia House. Could this signal GOP support for Constitutional pay equity? Even in the 21st century corporations continue to pay women less because they are women. Last week we learned that General Motors offered their first female CEO a salary 50% less than her male predecessors (the usual female pay discount is only 8%).

    Written on Tuesday, 25 February 2014 01:00 Read more...
  • Deadline Looms: ERA Ratification Assigned to Judiciary Committee in AZ Legislature
    Deadline Looms: ERA Ratification Assigned to Judiciary Committee in AZ Legislature

    Rep. Victoria Steele’s (D-9) bill to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (HCR2016) was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee late last week. (You’ll remember that mid-week, I reported it was languishing on the desk of House Speaker Andy Tobin.)

    Written on Tuesday, 18 February 2014 01:56 Read more...
  • Uphill Battle: Rep. Victoria Steele Introduces Bill to Extend ERA Ratification Deadline
    Uphill Battle: Rep. Victoria Steele Introduces Bill to Extend ERA Ratification Deadline

    There is an ideological perfect storm brewing in the Arizona Legislature. A memorandum supporting extension of the ratification deadline for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) has been assigned to a committee where five out of seven members have pledged to protect and fight for the rights of fetuses over the rights of women.

    Written on Thursday, 13 February 2014 14:37 Read more...
  • America the Beautiful is Not a Movie
    America the Beautiful is Not a Movie

    What I know about sports, I learned watching movies, but what I know about fair play and equality, I learned watching my parents.  Although movies Based on a true story, have evolved closer to reality since William Bendix played Babe Ruth, the brain damage of inequality requires more than A Hail Mary Pass at equal economic opportunity and Justice for All to tackle an Equal Rights Amendment fumbled by a deadline for ratification.

    Written on Monday, 10 February 2014 20:51 Read more...
  • Alice Paul: Honoring The Birthday Of An American Heroine
    Alice Paul: Honoring The Birthday Of An American Heroine

    In November 2014, Americans will be heading to the polls to vote in the midterm elections.

    Women will be voting.

    If Alice Paul had not been alive to fight for that right, women still might not have the opportunity to make their voices heard in the United States of America.

    January 11, 1885 was the day this great American woman was born and it is on this day that everyone should take a moment to recognize and celebrate her brave and progressive life.

    Written on Sunday, 12 January 2014 00:11 Read more...
  • Signature gathering drive underway for state equal-rights amendment
    Signature gathering drive underway for state equal-rights amendment

    People are out collecting signatures to get the Oregon’s Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) for women on the November 2014 ballot. This could mean a change to the state constitution to include language that specifically protects women.

    Oregon’s ERA for women has been out there several times before now, most recently before the legislative session in 2013, but it didn't pass.

    Written on Wednesday, 01 January 2014 22:30 Read more...
  • ERA December Update
    ERA December Update

    Congratulations Rhode Island!
    Rhode Island is the first state to have 100% of their Federal delegation supporting our legislation. A special thanks to Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Senator Jack Reed, Rep. David Cicilline and Rep. James Langevin. We appreciate your support.

    Written on Thursday, 12 December 2013 01:19 Read more...
  • JFK'S Contribution to Women's Rights -- and What He Might Want Us to Do Next
    JFK'S Contribution to Women's Rights -- and What He Might Want Us to Do Next

    Just a few weeks before his death, on October 11, 1963, President Kennedy received the final report of the President's Commission on the Status of Women. A direct line runs between the work of this commission and the establishment of the National Organization for Women.

    Written on Saturday, 23 November 2013 21:02 Read more...
  • Debate over Equal Rights Amendment

    If an Equal Rights Amendment were to pass, women would have the written support of the Constitution. Instead of women having to prove that they were being discriminated against, violators of the amendment would face a harsher reality, having to prove their innocence.

    The benefits of ratifying the amendment are fairly simple. By passing the Equal Rights Amendment, the government would not only open doors of opportunity for women in the country, but also open them all around the world.

    Written on Wednesday, 20 November 2013 02:58 Read more...
  • Progressive Push - First Stop California
    Progressive Push - First Stop California

    UPDATE: Linda Sanchez and Louise Roybal-Allard are now cosponsors of HJ Res 43. As Progressives we should all be outraged that of the 15 members of the Progressive Caucus from California, there are 5 (3) who have not co-sponsored Representative Rob Andrews legislation, HJ Res 43, removing the deadline for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. Unacceptable. They are well aware of the legislation and we must alert them to this fact.

    Written on Thursday, 07 November 2013 00:00 Read more...
  • The ERA and the NCGA 2013
    The ERA and the NCGA 2013

    Targeting women’s right to vote may be the undoing of extreme governance and an opportunity to take care of constitutionally unfinished business for women – an Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). The newly declared war on the right of women in NC to vote looks to be the match to the fuse in the renewed push for passing an ERA.

    Written on Tuesday, 05 November 2013 00:00 Read more...
  • Senator Elizabeth Warren Signs On to SJ Res 15
    Senator Elizabeth Warren Signs On to SJ Res 15

    A Major Victory for ERA (Equal Rights Amendment) advocates happened today as Senator Elizabeth Warren becomes the 32nd co-sponsor on Senator Ben Cardin’s bi-partisan bill, SJRES15 to remove the deadline to ratify the ERA.

    Written on Thursday, 31 October 2013 16:47 Read more...
  • Monday Vintage Demonstrations on Equal Rights Amendment
    Monday Vintage Demonstrations on Equal Rights Amendment

    In the spirit of Moral Mondays the Onslow County Democratic Party announced that this Monday’s demonstration on  October 28th  will focus on pushing back against the wave of legislation negatively impacting  women’s rights to include the targeting of their voting rights. Demonstrators are civilly rallying from 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm outside the Jacksonville City Hall at 815 New Bridge Street to support the passage of an Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) checking state laws that are eroding women’s rights.

    Written on Thursday, 24 October 2013 17:46 Read more...
  • “Welcome to Ohio: Set Your Clocks Back 50 Years!”
    “Welcome to Ohio:  Set Your Clocks Back 50 Years!”

    “Seems like old times,” was former ODP chair, David Leland’s comment when we exchanged greetings at the Statehouse, October 2nd. Indeed it did. About 1000 enthusiastic women and men showed up for a rally entitled, “We Won’t Go Back: Stand Strong with Ohio’s Women!”

    Written on Thursday, 03 October 2013 13:49 Read more...
  • Poverty, Hunger, Inequality, Violence: American Women Are Being Screwed
    Poverty, Hunger, Inequality, Violence: American Women Are Being Screwed

    Women earn less than men. Compared to white men, Latinas earn 59 cents for every dollar earned by a white man, black women earn 68 cents on the dollar, white women earn 81 cents on the dollar, and Asian women earn 88 cents on the dollar

    Written on Thursday, 29 August 2013 00:43 Read more...
  • ERA 2013 Action Campaign Gains Momentum - White House Petition Passes 20,000 Signature Mark
    ERA 2013 Action Campaign Gains Momentum - White House Petition Passes 20,000 Signature Mark

    The new push to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) continues to grow as word spreads about the effort to get the Obama Administration to take a stand on the issue of equal rights for women. The ERA 2013 Action Campaign and its partner, ERA NOW, seek to gather 25,000 signatures on an official White House petition to trigger an official response from the Obama Administration, now needs only 4600 signatures by February 9th.

    Written on Tuesday, 05 February 2013 17:58 Read more...

ERA Legislation in your State

Unratified states Gold - Ratified States Purple

Sign the Petition - Sen. Sanders Run as a Democrat in 2016

Button-SandersPetition

Sign the TPP Fast Track Petitions

MoveOn.org Petition - Congress Don't Renew Fast Track

Public Citizen Petition - Congress Must Reject Fast Track Authority

MoveOn.org Petition - Stop the Trans Pacific Partnership

CREDO Petition - Stop the Massive Corporate Power Grab

 

ERA - January 15th Round Table

Find Your Elected Officials

Enter your zip+4 and find your elected officials. This link provides name, address and phone number

ButtonFindElectedOfficials

Click on your state in the list to find out if your Senators and Representative are cosponsors of the Equal Rights Amendment. Then call and either Thank Them or ask them to support the legislation.

Sample scripts are below.

ERA Call Scripts

Thank You Script
I am a voter in your district and the Equal Rights Amendment is very important to me and all my friends. Thank you for supporting equal rights.

Request Support
I am a voter in your district and the Equal Rights Amendment is very important to me and all my friends. Equality is a human rights issue. The Equal Rights Amendment has been stalled and we believe removing the ratification deadline will most the process forward. Please cosponsor SJ Res 15 (for Senators) HJ Res 43 (for your Representative)

Writer a Letter to the Editor about the ERA

We need to add the Equal Rights Amendment to the National conversation. Use our tool to send a letter to the editor of your local paper.

  1. Enter your zip code to select a list of local papers
  2. Select the paper
  3. Use our talking points and/or write your own letter

button-LettertoEditor

Hand Deliver a Letter to your Senators or Representative

If your Senator(s) and/or Representative is not currently a supporter, they may not be aware that the legislation exists. Nothing sends a stronger message to a Congressional member than a personal visit to a district office by a voter with a written request for support. Phone calls and emails are incredibly important but nothing gets attention like a personal visit. Our Educate Congress page has information and a sample letter. Print the letter, sign it, deliver it.

Button-HandDeliver

Email Your Senators and Representatives

There is no faster way to send a message to your Congress members than using our Email Advocacy Tool.

  1. Enter your Zip +4
  2. Use our letter or feel free to edit and create your own

button-emailyourrep

Like ERA Action on Facebook!

ERA Videos

VA State Legislature

Marena Groll
Moral Monday - Fayetteville

January 15th Progressive Round Table

Tea with Friends of Alice - Chillicothe, Ohio

  • Sen. Nina Turner and Cathy White
    Sen. Nina Turner and Cathy White
  • Queen Nester and Sen. Nina Turner
    Queen Nester and Sen. Nina Turner
  • Awardees
    Dr. Jean Kerney, Senator Nina Turner and Portia A. Boulger Awardees
  • Sen. Nina Turner and Cathy White
  • Queen Nester and Sen. Nina Turner
  • Awardees