I’m obviously not a lobbyist – no, I’m human. I occasionally get nervous; sometimes I’m too humble and apologetic; I sweat in 100-degree heat and get cold in 60-degree air conditioning. Yes, there were parts of my lobby visits that were tough, but it wasn’t hard to straighten my back, sharpen my mind, and strengthen my voice when holding onto the names of 400 people who supported me, Jess, and our message.
We spent two intense days running back and forth and throughout Capitol hill, hitting up more than 100 House and 70 Senate offices, making lobby visits with staffers for Representatives Costello, Carnahan, Akin, and Frank and Senators Burris, Durbin, and McCaskill while we were there.
Overall, our basic premise that we must reduce military spending was well received – on the specifics of how to do that, there was definitely some disagreement. Pointing out that military spending should be a part of any equation to reduce deficits was also well received across the board. And our analysis of the US and Boeing’s fueling both sides of an Indian-Pakistani arms race gave us a level of credibility and gave the staffers we met with another issue to chew on.
I would like to thank everyone who participated in this campaign, particularly those whose financial contributions made these visits possible. I believe our efforts to tell Congress that we must reduce military spending are beginning to pay-off. Thank you for being a part of that message!
A few highlights from our visits:
Most humorous moment of the trip: Waiting in the office-reception area of Rep Todd Akin (R-MO) for our meeting with one of his staffers, the receptionist answers a call and shouts into the next room that it was so-and-so from Boeing. The phone was picked up immediately – we waited patiently.
Most reassuring moment: When Sen Durbin’s (D-IL) staffer said, unabashedly, that he thought the back-up/alternative F-35 engine was a horrible idea. (Every other office said, well, “we can’t decide to be for or against it…”)
Runner-up: When Akin’s staffer said he thought the C-17 might not make it in this year’s budget
Best awkward silence: Followed Rep Carnahan’s (D-MO) staffer asking what we should do with troops stationed on Okinowa and I responded, “Bring them home…” His silence told me that he did not agree.
Most fruitful conversation: With a Sen McCaskill’s (D-MO) staffer and a former military officer who was participating in a fellowship with the Senator’s office. When we disagreed, there were cogent answers and when we agreed or were close, we were encouraged to push the Senator in that direction.
Shortest Visit: Office of Sen Burris (D-IL) – while we waited to meet with a staffer, one of the office interns spilled BBQ sauce all over the carpet, making the office smell like someone had been smoking ribs in there all morning. Once we were able to meet, the meeting was cut short as the staffer said, “I’m sorry, I have to go, financial reform just passed – what can the Senator do?” I rattled off: “Vote yes on New START and the CTBT, no money for new nukes, and commit to funding community needs by reducing military spending.” And she was gone… I’m not sure if it was really the financial reform, me, or the BBQ sauce that made her run off in such a hurry – but I still think she got our point.