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Former Congressman Dr. Phil Gingrey provides public policy and government relations counsel to clients on a variety of issues. Here at Phil on the Hill, Phil draws upon his long career in public service to provide perspective and context on policy topics such as health care, the federal budget, annual appropriations, regulatory reform, and life sciences.

August: Good Time to Question Your Congressman

Monday, August 06, 2018

August is typically a dull time and the weather is extremely humid in our nation’s capital. With Congress usually in recess, the swarms of lawmakers and staffers seem to be entirely replaced by swarms of mosquitoes. This year however is shaping up to be a little different.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R--KY) has already cancelled the bulk of the Senate’s traditional August recess. Now, with their House colleagues out until early September, it seems as though senators might have to spend most of the month sweating it out on Capitol Hill.

You might think that in today’s political climate most politicians would be grateful to avoid several extra weeks of town halls and meet and greets. However, as a former Member of Congress, I can assure you that the opposite is the case.

I considered returning home to talk with my constituents and hear firsthand their issues and concerns one of my favorite, and most important, parts of my job. Even when contentious issues were at hand, I felt privileged to play such a vital part in community democracy in action.

As Congress’s summer schedule takes shape, I urge readers to stay on top of when your representatives and senators will be home. Most members have newsletters to which you can subscribe and share information on Twitter and Facebook about when they might be visiting and holding local events, such as town hall meetings and other forums. I cannot stress how important these are to elected officials. It can be too easy to get caught up in the bubble of Washington, D.C., and being able to interact face-to-face with voters shines a new light on many issues.

Want to say something about the direction of health care?

Have suggestions about how we can advance value-based purchasing efforts in the Medicare program in a way that respect the needs of caregivers, health care providers and patients alike?

Ideas on curtailing the opioid epidemic?

Concerned about federal funding for the National Institutes of Health?

As members return home for their (severely shortened) summer breaks, I encourage anyone who has an idea or concern to seize the opportunity and attend local meetings or make an appointment to see your elected officials.

“There are a number of things wrong in Washington,” President Dwight D. Eisenhower once said. “One of them is that everyone is too far from home.” Not in August; go and be heard!