Saturday, June 09, 2012

Lobby Day 2005: Senator Domenici and Senator Lugar

Tuesday is Lobby Day, and I will be on Capitol Hill with dozens of other Bread for the World advocates to urge our legislators to form a Circle of Protection around programs that help poor and vulnerable people here in the U.S. and overseas.

As I prepare to visit the offices of Sen. Jeff Bingaman, Sen. Tom Udall and Rep. Martin Heinrich, I reminisce on similar experiences over the past several years.  I don't remember how many Lobby Days I've actually attended, but there have been some memorable moments.  There was the year when Rep. Steve Schiff and Sen Bingaman both came to the post-Lobby Day reception.  And there was the year when Rep. Heather Wilson congratulated me for my Hunger Hero award (and I hadn't even mentioned it to her).  And it was great to have Graham Golden around last year because he came on our Lobby visits wearing his Norbertine habit.

I would like to share another experience that occurred seven years ago.  In June 2005, a group of Bread advocates from New Mexico (including then board member Ann Sims) were gathered in the office of Sen. Pete Domenici in the Hart Senate Office Building. We were scheduled to meet with a legislative aide who worked with nutrition issues to ask that Sen. Domenici sign on to an initiative supporting the Hunger-Free Communities Act.

The aide with whom we were originally scheduled to meet had a last-minute conflict, so we ended up meeting with a junior staff member in the lobby of Sen. Domenici's office.  As we were talking to the young man, Sen. Domenici happened to walk by and casually asked what it was that we were requesting.  We were able to give him the pitch directly!  One of the questions he asked us was who the lead sponsors were.  Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, we said.  And Sen. Domenici responded (and I paraphrase), "If Sen. Lugar is on board, then I'm on board."   .

Sen. Lugar poses withBread advocates from Indiana after a recent Lobby Day
I relate this story as we offer our gratitude to Sen. Lugar, who  joined one other Republican and two Democrats as lead sponsors of the Hunger-Free Communities Act. Sen. Lugar was a consistently strong anti-hunger advocate and a dedicated bipartisan legislator.  His initiatives usually carried titles like the Global Food Security Act and the Good Samaritan Hunger Relief Act.

Sen. Lugar''s was defeated in the Indiana Republican primary on May 8.  We will miss him in Congress, but we will continue our strong  to work closely with members of both major parties as well as independents.

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