Though call volumes on Capitol Hill were back to normal levels by Wednesday, organizers said they expected this week’s increased grass-roots engagement to last.
“When we finally get an agreement and lift the debt ceiling, which is a device, we’ll still have an economic crisis. We’ll still have a bad economy made worse by whatever cuts they decide to pass,” said Robert Borosage, co-director of the Campaign for America’s Future, which is also part of the new liberal movement. “This coalition is not going to go away.”
Tuesday’s activism blitz followed a speech in which the president called on citizens to pressure lawmakers for a compromise. Obama’s campaign followed up with emails and text messages targeting specific districts.
Conservative leaders said the president’s call also mobilized their ranks.
“It’s very competitive, where if we know that the left is mobilizing and calling, it’s much more important that we be aggressively getting out there and making sure their voice doesn’t exist in a vacuum,” said Dustin Stockton, spokesman for TheTeaParty.Net, whose members sent more than 260,000 e-mails to Members of Congress this week, demanding that an increase in the debt ceiling be paired with spending cuts.
MoveOn.org Civic Action and TheTeaParty.Net requested donations this week to sustain their efforts.
Brendan Steinhauser of FreedomWorks, a libertarian group that works closely with the tea parties, said his organization has been adding to its membership of 1.2 million at a rate of 3,000 each week.
“The left has always been more active in general, but we’ve been beating them at this game for the last couple years,” he said. “I don’t think [liberals] have the energy we do.”
Like the liberal organizations, FreedomWorks also organized events in Congressional districts: Activists visited 250 offices last week. Additionally, more than 35,000 have signed the group’s Cut, Cap and Balance Pledge demanding significant, enforceable cuts and a balanced budget amendment.
Dozens of tea party activists also rallied Wednesday on Capitol Hill. Amy Kremer, chairwoman of Tea Party Express, attended the event and said the debt ceiling is “all anybody is focused on.”
“As these [Members] go back to their districts and start having town halls, they’ll start seeing some good constructive debate going on because people are just mad as hell,” Kremer said.
Members of the American Dream Movement plan to do the same.
“We’re going to plug the people active this week into a major effort … for jobs and to get the economy moving again, particularly during recess,” Ruben said.
Leaders from military and veterans service organizations joined Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Kelly Ayotte , R-N.H., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., at a press conference to urge the Senate to replace a provision in the budget proposal that cuts retirement benefits for veterans. Wicker, Ayotee, and Graham earlier called for a bipartisan solution to replace the $6.3 billion in cuts to military retiree benefits.
Each year since 1990, CQ Roll Call has reviewed the financial disclosures of all 541 senators, representatives and delegates to determine the 50 richest members of Congress. This year's report, derived from forms covering the calendar year 2012, shows it took a net worth of $6.67 million to crack the exclusive club.