Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) recently wrote an article sharing his thoughts about the importance of grassroots politics, and used ESA’s annual Day on Capitol Hill on April 17 and 18 as an example. Reed, a member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, spoke to DOCH attendees during the Interlogix Diamond Dinner. He showed his own grassroots style by giving an overview of his legislative goals, and answering a number of questions from the audience. His article appears below.
By Rep. Tom Reed (R – N.Y.)
Since my election to the U.S. Congress, I have developed/held a firm belief that U.S. citizens should be encouraged to travel to the nation’s capital to visit with their elected officials in the House and Senate to present their views on issues important to them. Many of my colleagues join me in our respect for grassroots democracy — that is, a constitutional right to petition the government on issues that impact the daily lives of families around the country.
Members of Congress spend a lot of time listening to their constituents. If they don’t, they probably won’t get re-elected. We have held 60 public town hall meetings and conducted many "tele-town hall meetings” during this term. We respond to thousands of letters, e-mails, social media messages and telephone calls received in our office on a regular basis. When constituents from my New York district take the time to travel to Washington, D.C., I make time to visit with them. These are often the times I learn the most.
As an example, I recently had an opportunity to visit with the small business owners of alarm, security and monitoring companies and their manufacturer supporters during their annual "Day on Capitol Hill” conference. The Electronic Security Association (ESA) hosted the event, which provided me with an opportunity to review their concerns relating to public safety and protection of our homeland. I commend the ESA for its willingness to have members travel to the nation’s capital to visit individually with House and Senate members and their staff on priority issues of the day. I appreciate listening to people from my district when they come down to Washington with their trade and professional associations to discuss legislation and regulations. It’s these "front line” operators who know how we can best help them (or get out of their way).
Your voice matters! Visiting with your elected officials is a great way to get members of Congress informed on issues impacting your businesses.
There is no way we can be experts on every issue coming through the various committees. We can however, rely on experts from various fields and the opinions from constituents. A pro-active conference like ESA’s Day on Capitol Hill, along with visits from my constituents, provide my office with another resource for valuable insight as questions arise about impacts a bill may have on a certain industry.
Simply stated, we cannot represent our constituents if we do not know what they think. So I encourage you to use your voice, and come to D.C. and let members know what is on your mind and how policies in Washington impact you!