What to expect from Congressional Education Day: Day 2

Congressional Education Day lobbying climate conference Washington D.C. 10th anniversary

What to expect from Congressional Education Day: Day 2

By Flannery Winchester

CCL has welcomed thousands of new volunteers this year, and we have an abundance of ways to get involved. One exciting way is to attend November’s Congressional Education Day in Washington D.C., which is an incredible two-day chance to learn and lobby alongside fellow CCL volunteers from across the country. If you’re new to CCL or haven’t attended our November event before, here’s a taste of what you can expect from Day 2. (And if you want a peek into Day 1, it’s here!)

Your meeting schedule

Day 2 of Congressional Education Day is where the rubber really meets the road. Volunteers head to the Hill for hundreds of lobby meetings with congressional representatives and staff. Amy Bennett, CCL’s Director of Operations, will email out your meeting schedule on November 9, the Thursday before lobby day.

The schedule will include the contact information for all of your other CCL meeting team members. Some teams choose to set up a conference call sometime during the next few days to review goals for their meetings and assign roles, such as the timekeeper, note taker, and so on. It’s a bit more intimate than our huge June conference, said Bill Barron, who coordinates the Wild West region. “Compared to our National Conference in June with 1300 attendees, the Congressional Education Day reminds me of earlier lobby days. There is more of a chance to personally connect with volunteers and participate in more meetings.”

And everyone is welcome, too. Sabrina Fu, one of the regional coordinators for the Mid-Atlantic region, said, “At last year’s CED, we brought some college students into our lobby groups. It was so wonderful how much attention was paid to these students by MOCs and their staff. They know climate change will affect these young people the most—having the young people there set the conversation on a productive track.”

Keep in mind, your meetings might be with a face-to-face meeting with a member of Congress or it might be a meeting with their staff. Both are incredibly important! The Congressional Management Foundation has conducted research showing that 95% of members of Congress agree or strongly agree that their staff is “committed to their objectives.” That means members of Congress really trust and listen to their staffers, so it’s helpful to build positive relationships at every level. Jon Clark, another regional coordinator for the Mid-Atlantic region, said, “The more face time we get with Congress, the sooner we get this thing done!”

A unique lobbying experience

Lobbying at Congressional Education Day is different from our other lobbying efforts. A few elements are the same, like starting off with an appreciation, confirming the length of the meeting, and introducing ourselves. What’s unique about the November meetings, though, is that we don’t have a traditional “ask.” Instead, the November meetings are our chance to do something helpful for the congressional offices: we give them our June Analysis.

The June Analysis starts with all of the detailed meeting notes our volunteers took during the June lobbying effort. Those notes go to Dr. Danny Richter, CCL’s Vice President of Government Affairs, who gathers them into one spreadsheet and does a careful, close reading. Danny tracks a variety of topics that appear in those meeting notes—last year he tracked 47 different ones. “These are topics like the Climate Solutions Caucus, the border issue, the dividend,” Danny explained. Danny also tracks exactly how those topics were approached: whether the representative was expressing concern, asking a question, suggesting something, expressing interest, or making some other kind of comment on the topic. Once those pieces of data are all in place, Danny conducts the analysis and puts the findings together in a report like this one. It provides an informative look at where congressional offices stand on the issue of climate change, Carbon Fee and Dividend, and much more.

That’s the report we deliver in our lobby meetings on Day 2 of Congressional Education Day. Jon said, “It’s a pretty rewarding feeling to get the summary results from our June meetings with Congress and be able to go back to their offices on our Congressional Education Day and share what we’ve found. I get a genuine feeling from so many offices that they are interested in learning what their fellow Congress members are thinking about climate change.”

In addition to supplying this informative report, we may even invite the members of Congress to an educational briefing later in the week to learn more about these topics. Overall, the message is clear: CCL is here to be a helpful resource when it comes to understanding and enacting climate solutions.

10th anniversary party

After a long day of lobbying, we’ll have our reception at 7 p.m. back at the Omni Shoreham Hotel. “It’s great to share stories about the day’s meetings with each other,” Jon said. “It always gets me pumped up to go back to Pennsylvania and make things happen.”

“There’s nothing like experiencing the warmth and support of friends from around the country,” Brett Cease, the 3rd Coast regional coordinator, added. “Working together on an issue as large and amorphous as climate change can often feel isolating and challenging at times, but having the chance to connect and catch up with old and new CCLers in DC leaves me feeling restored and refreshed.”

This year, in addition to mingling and enjoying stories from another successful lobbying effort, we’ll also be celebrating CCL’s 10th anniversary. Way back on November 3, 2007, CCL held its first ever national call, featuring Brent Blackwelder of Friends of the Earth as the guest speaker. We’ve come a long way since then! If you have photos and stories from the past 10 years that you’d like to share, please submit them here. A select few will be chosen to be a part of the 10th anniversary celebration at the reception.

“I’m really looking forward to going back again this year,” said Tamara Staton, who coordinates the Pacific Northwest region. “I know that, just like at all the other CCL conferences I’ve been to, I will come away feeling empowered and deeply impacted.”

If you haven’t already, head to the Congressional Education Day event page and register for the conference. We’ll see you in D.C.!

Flannery Winchester
Flannery Winchester has put her words to work for magazines, for marketing agencies, and now for our earth as CCL's Communications Director. She is grateful to spend every day working to preserve this beautiful planet.