One week after important midterms, CCL will lobby in D.C.

One week after important midterms, CCL will lobby in D.C.

By Flannery Winchester

America is charging toward a dramatic midterm election on November 6. It’s the first time the nation as a whole has had a chance to cast votes since President Trump’s election, and it’s possible we could see high levels of turnover in Congress.

Exactly one week later, CCL volunteers will arrive on Capitol Hill for hundreds of lobby meetings as part of our annual Congressional Education Day. (You can go ahead and register here!)

I spoke with CCL’s Vice President of Government Affairs, Dr. Danny Richter, to understand exactly what this political atmosphere means for our efforts.

An uncertain time

Dr. Danny Richter

Dr. Danny Richter, Vice President of Government Affairs

“After the election, it’s a time of upheaval and uncertainty,” Danny acknowledges. “Both parties are trying to figure out how many people were elected and which people were elected. There are leadership contests going on behind the scenes.” Amid all that, parties are also trying to determine their legislative priorities for the upcoming two years.

“That is typically a time when most organizations want to stay away because it’s very hard to navigate those choppy seas,” Danny says. But as tough as it is, it’s also an opportunity. “When there’s so much uncertainty, we can get our voices and our solution top of mind as both parties are considering all their options for the following Congress.”

Danny says this year could be particularly interesting due to the high amount of turnover. “We could see as many as 100 people who were there at the start of the 115th Congress not be there at the start of the 116th Congress. That’s a fifth of Congress.” Danny says, “We haven’t dealt with something of this scale.” Not only that, but control of Congress could shift.

Democrats in control?

“If the prognosticators are right, the House will flip to the Democrats,” Danny says. Indeed, generic ballot polls show Democrats with an advantage. If the party ultimately captures enough seats to flip the House, it would be the first time since 2010 that CCL has operated with a Democrat-controlled House.

”CCL was still a baby in 2010,” Danny points out. “We probably only had a couple hundred active people when CCL was last operating with a Democratic House.” Since then, we’ve grown to more than 100,000 supporters. Danny says, “CCL has come of age.” A Democratic House offers a new, unique opportunity to effect change, especially now that we’re operating at a level of sophistication and scale far above what we did in 2010.

A Democratic House also offers the temptation of running full tilt toward one climate solution whether or not Republicans are on board—but that’s not how CCL operates. No matter who’s in charge, we will stay true to our nonpartisan roots and our desire for significant bipartisan climate legislation. The landscape may look different, but the goal is the same: a Carbon Fee and Dividend supported by both Republicans and Democrats. Bipartisan support will help ensure the legislation lasts, which is crucial for stabilizing our climate.

A bridge, not a wedge

At the time of our interview, Danny had analyzed about 75% of our volunteers’ notes from their June lobby meetings. The meeting notes showed that “our bipartisan message really resonated with a lot of members of Congress on both sides,” Danny reports. “Coming into November, we will be stressing that climate should be a bridge issue, not a wedge issue—there are plenty of other wedge issues. Offices were very responsive to that framing in June, and it opened them up to a different, more CCL way of thinking. I see more productive discussions moving forward.”

Information like that, and more, will be part of CCL’s June Analysis. This annual report is generated from the 500+ lobby meetings our volunteers have in June, and it’s integral to the success of Congressional Education Day. Each November, our volunteers share this report with all the offices on the Hill, regardless of who currently agrees or disagrees with our policy goals. The response on the Hill is always “very positive,” Danny says, because we’re “showing MoCs that CCL volunteers really are a resource. Everyone wants to be a resource—CCL volunteers really can deliver. This is the event where we show that.” Check out last year’s June Analysis here.

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.