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Civic Responsibility

This page focuses on resources that provide information on the branches of the United States Government, Congressional activity, regional representation, and avenues for becoming more of a partner in the governance of the United States.

  • The United States Congress.Gov: https://www.congress.gov/help/search-tools-overview – This resource publishes the legislation activities of our elected officials.
  • The United States House of Representatives: http://www.house.gov/ – Elected to a two-year term, each representative serves the people of a specific congressional district by introducing bills and serving on committees, among other duties.
  • United States Senate: https://www.senate.gov/ – Established by the Constitution as one chamber of the federal government’s legislative branch, the United States Senate is comprised of one hundred members—two senators from each of the 50 states—who serve six-year, overlapping terms. Senators, along with members of the House of Representatives, propose, author, and vote on federal legislation that touches upon all aspects of U.S. domestic and foreign policy. Senators provide advice and consent on executive nominations and treaties and conduct oversight of all branches of the federal government.
  • United States Judicial System: http://www.uscourts.gov/about-federal-courts/court-role-and-structure – The federal judiciary operates separately from the executive and legislative branches, but often works with them as the Constitution requires. Federal laws are passed by Congress and signed by the President. The judicial branch decides the constitutionality of federal laws and resolves other disputes about federal laws. However, judges depend on our government’s executive branch to enforce court decisions.Courts decide what really happened and what should be done about it. They decide whether a person committed a crime and what the punishment should be. They also provide a peaceful way to decide private disputes that people can’t resolve themselves. Depending on the dispute or crime, some cases end up in the federal courts and some end up in state courts. Learn more about the different types of federal courts.
  • Elected Officials: https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials – Learn how to get in touch with your federal, state, and local elected leaders.
  • GovTrack.us:  https://www.govtrack.us/ – GovTrack.us tracks the United States Congress and helps Americans understand what is going on in their national legislature. It is not a government-run site.  From the website: ” GovTrack.us is a completely independent entity which is wholly owned by its operator and receives no funding in any form from outside organizations. We have no financers, sponsors, investors, or partners, nor do we have any affiliation or relationship (financial or otherwise) with any political party, government agency, or any other outside group or persons.”
  • Texas Legislature: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/ – This site provides “news you can truly use” regarding the activity of our Texas reprensentatives.  For example, we have a Gerrymandering issue in this state.  A judge agreed with that statement and now the committee charged with handling redistricting has to submit revised maps that won’t discriminate against our citizens.  There are four bills currently proposed to handle this responsibility.  I was able to set up alerts on those bills so that I can track the progress or lack of progress on this important matter. There was contact information listed on the site so I was able to call the committee chair to let her know that I believe she needs to hold hearings on these bills – something she has yet to do even though her vice-chair has asked her repeatedly to do so. Sounds like stalling doesn’t it!  Daily phone calls should help get those hearings going.  Her name is Cindy Burkett by the way. Give her a call at (512) 463-0464 and tell her to do her job!
  • Common Cause: http://www.commoncause.org/ – Find your representatives and contact them using this resource. Common Cause also offers calls to action.  From the website: Common Cause is the original. Our founding in 1970 sparked a democracy reform movement that continues to grow.
  • Contacting Congress: http://contactingcongress.org/ – This site makes it very easy to contact your representatives. The interface is very user-friendly and the FAQs are truly helpful offering ideas for having the best results in reaching out to your elected representatives.  From the website: “Each citizen should feel comfortable voicing their opinion to their elected representatives. We need to start participating in our democracy more than every two or four years, and contacting congress is one quick, easy, and impactful way to affect change. There are many sites that help you find contact information, but the goal of this site is to be comprehensive, quick, and easy to use.  Please help us keep this site accurate and up-to-date.  If you encounter any mistakes or omissions, find any unlisted townhall schedules, or have an idea for the site, please let me know.”
  • Political Giving: http://www.fec.gov/
  • Indivisible.org: https://www.indivisibleguide.com/  – “When we put the Indivisible Guide online as a poorly formatted, typo-filled Google Doc, we never imagined how far and fast it would spread. Since December, the guide has been downloaded over a million times. More than 4,500 local groups have signed up to resist the Trump agenda in nearly every congressional district in the country. What’s more, you all are putting the guide into action—showing up en masse to congressional district offices and events, and flooding the congressional phone lines. You’re resisting—and it’s working.”
  • Daily Action: https://dailyaction.org/ – “The majority of our country believes in decency, in moderation, in sanity. Let’s not let the powers that be forget it. If we all band together against extremism and spend a few minutes a day using tools that have been proven to work, we can make a big difference in defending those values we share as Americans. Phoning our legislators, as New York Times recently reported*, is an extremely effective way to make our voices heard. That’s where the Daily Action alerts come in. We follow the news cycles closely to determine where we can collectively make the greatest impact. The point of Daily Action alerts is to make civic engagement easy and logistically painless.”
  • 5 Calls: Make Your Voice Heard: https://5calls.org/ – This excellent organization functions very much like Daily Action.  It makes easier for you to speak up and let your representatives know how you feel.  It empowers you with basic talking points to get you started on crafting your own personal message.  From the website: “Turn your passive participation into active resistance. Facebook likes and Twitter retweets can’t create the change you want to see. Calling your Government on the phone can.”
  • Swing Left: https://swingleft.org/ – “Swing Districts are places where the winner of the last House of Representatives election was determined by a thin margin. Swing Left helps you find and commit to supporting progressives in your closest Swing District so that you can help ensure we take back the House in 2018.”
  • RoadWomen: http://www.roadwomen.com/ – “ROADwomen is an all volunteer effort that works only because ROADwomen has so many wonderful volunteers. Please lend your expertise to a good cause!
    The Mission
    •To elect Democrats to office, with a special emphasis on electing pro-choice Democratic women.
    •To influence the Democratic Party to continue its historic role as a party that promotes social justice and equal rights for all people
    •To educate Houstonians about important political issues affecting them.”
  • Define American: https://defineamerican.com/ – “Define American is a non-profit media and culture organization that uses the power of story to transcend politics and shift the conversation about immigrants, identity, and citizenship in a changing America.”
  • The New Yorker: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/03/06/what-calling-congress-achieves – This is an article describing the benefits of calling your representatives.
  • The American Civil Liberties Union: https://www.aclu.org/ – “For almost 100 years, the ACLU has worked to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States.”
  • ProPublica: https://www.propublica.org/ – “ProPublica is an independent, nonprofit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest. Our work focuses exclusively on truly important stories, stories with “moral force.” We do this by producing journalism that shines a light on exploitation of the weak by the strong and on the failures of those with power to vindicate the trust placed in them.”
    • Mission: To expose abuses of power and betrayals of the public trust by government, business, and other institutions, using the moral force of investigative journalism to spur reform through the sustained spotlighting of wrongdoing.
  • Americans United for Separation of Church and State: https://www.au.org/ – “Americans United for Separation of Church and State is a nonpartisan educational organization dedicated to preserving the constitutional principle of church-state separation as the only way to ensure religious freedom for all Americans.”
  • Sister District: https://www.sisterdistrict.com/ – From the website: “These are dangerous times that demand resistance. But if you live in a solidly blue (or red) place, you might feel frustrated trying to figure out what you can do to fight back. The Sister District Project can help you find a place to channel your blue energy where it will actually make a difference.”
  • Resistbot: https://resistbot.io/ – Resistbot will ask for your name and information to find your elected officials. Your representatives will know you’re a constituent—that’s who matters to them.  Just text resist to 50409 to get started. It takes less than 5 minutes to have your voice heard in Congress.
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