If I had Heart Surgery, then I can deal with Congress!

If you live in the Washington, DC area (or can take a few days off and travel to DC), plan to Join the Adult Congenital Heart Association as we lobby Congress!

In 2007 we lobbied for the National Registry of CHD patients, and while we won the battle, we lost the war. The Registry initiative was included in the Federal Budget, but the political process delayed passage of the budget. When it finally was passed, the budget was “stripped” – in other words, many extra spending initiatives, including the registry, were dropped.

Lobby Day is scheduled for February 10, 2009, and if you can attend, we would love to have you. We especially need ACHDer’s who feel comfortable telling their story… even to someone you may see on the national news each night. And since appointments with Congressional staff almost always last 15 minutes or less, the quicker you can “cut to the point” the better! Congress is a strange beast: it can move painfully slow as a group, but individual meetings occur at a rapid pace.

If you do get to come, the following tips should come in handy:

Bring a good suit or dress, and gentlemen, don’t forget the tie. Business attire is standard dress for Congressional offices.

Bring a pair of good, comfortable shoes. You may be familiar with the size of the Capitol, but what you may not know is that all of the legislator’s offices are located in seven office buildings that surround the Capitol building. All of the buildings are connected by a system of tunnels, so while you won’t have to venture outside, there will be a lot of walking involved.

Don’t be disappointed if you don’t actually meet with your favorite legislator. A member of the staff familiar with the subject being discussed often takes the meeting and reports to his/her superior.

Getting to your hotel should be easy if you select a hotel near a Metro stop. Reagan National Airport has a Metro stop located a short walk from the baggage claim area.

When we lobby in 2009, we’ll be teamed up with other Congenital Heart Defect groups. Legislators and their staffers have come to expect visits from various heart related groups around Valentine’s Day: It’s a natural day to choose. When we lobbied in 2007, I met several people from other heart groups who were lobbying for their cause, too. It seems a bit “scattershot”, with five or six heart groups walking the halls, each one lobbying for their own cause. So in 2009 the ACHA is going to join forces with several other heart groups and lobby together. The more constituents you can put together the more Congress will respond, so joining together can only help each group.

So listen up Congress… We’re back!

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