Field Update: Convincing the House

This post is by Bill Petty, National Field Director at Environmental Defense.

Climate Vote 2007

Part of a series on the work of the Environmental Defense Action Fund to enact an effective climate law. You can help by writing to Congress.

Environmental Defense works hard to educate members of Congress about global warming, and motivate them to take action. The House is a particular challenge because, unlike the Senate, the House has never voted on global warming legislation. So to build a grassroots field campaign to win a majority in the House, we had to start from scratch.

We started by rating members of Congress on a scale from one to five, with one being a definite "yes" vote and five a definite "no" vote. The twos, threes and fours are our swing votes – our targets.

We take the time to learn something about these members of Congress so we can communicate with them effectively. You have to know your targets to assess what arguments you need to make, and what types of constituents you need to help you make them.

In the House, there are about a dozen key swing votes on the Energy and Commerce Committee whose support we need to get a strong bill marked up and to the floor for a vote. To reach them, we’ve been coordinating on-the-ground efforts in 10 states, with paid field staff, lobbyists, and communication experts bolstering our presence in key congressional districts.

As part of this effort we’ve been reaching out to key constituents, from students to hunters to churches to business groups, along with many others. The relationships we’ve forged with influential community leaders lay the groundwork for legislative activity later this year.

How successful have we been? Well, proof of success will come when we get a vote.

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