Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Lobby Day 2016: The Scheduled Visits and the Drop-By's

At Sen. Tom Udall's office
At Sen. Martin Heinrich's office
As I handed my card to Sen. Tom Udall's aide, Lisa Van Theemske, she said, "Oh, you're Carlos. Ms. Sheely said I should talk to you if I have any questions." Ms. Van Theemske, a legislative correspondent for Sen. Udall, was referring to Pat Sheely, a Bread member in Gallup, New Mexico. The fact that Ms. Van Theemske remembered Pat Sheely's name is no small thing. This was evidence that the call and all the calls from our Bread activists in New Mexico were important to Sen. Udall's office.

Pat was one of 10 Bread members from New Mexico who volunteered to make calls to the Washington offices of Sen. Udall, Sen. Martin Heinrich, Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Rep. Ben Ray Lujan to support the face-to-face meetings that three of us (Larry Buelow, Ellen Buelow and I) had scheduled. Hundreds of Bread members around the country were making similar calls or visiting the local offices of legislators on Lobby Day.

'For us, the calls were very helpful as we asked our senators to invest $230 million in global nutrition programs (the subject of our 2016 Offering of Letters) and to pass a strong nutrition bill that closes the gap and connects hungry children with nutritious meals.

At Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham's office
Our only scheduled visit on the House side was with Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham. But we were aware that four people from the Third Congressional District (Pat Sheely from Gallup, Bro. Jim Brown from Santa Fe, Mary Singleton from Truchas and Stephanie Eagles from Cochiti Lake) had volunteered to call. So, on their behalf, we asked for a brief meeting with a legislative aide to Rep. Ben Ray Lujan.

A senior legislative aide, who needed to be on the floor in about five minutes, gave us three minutes to make our pitch. Support passage of the Senate version of the Global Food Security Act (S.1252) and actively oppose H.R. 5003, an initiative that would block grant school meals, which would make it more difficult for tens of thousands of children to access nutritions meals at schools and during the summer months. We received strong assurances from the aides to Rep. Lujan Grisham and Lujan that they were very supportive of our asks. (Both supported the earlier House version of the GFSA).

We also dropped by Rep. Steve Pearce's office, where we left a packet of information about the bills.  We were received in a very cordial manner, but the aide who would have been in charge of the issues for which we were advocating was out of the office. And Larry was able to reconnect with an old friend from the Air Force, who has worked in a senior role in Rep. Pearce's office for many years. All in all, a fairly good Lobby Day for Bread in New Mexico.

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