Each day last week, Enough asked students, conscientious consumers, and constituents to take just five minutes to send personal messages via Facebook and Twitter to 10 U.S. representatives whose support could help push the Conflict Minerals Trade Act to a full vote by the House of Representatives. Activists responded in remarkable numbers to the Change the Equation call-to-action, as evidenced by the flood of Congo-related messages that dominated the walls of our 10 key representatives. (Click the ‘[Member’s Name] + Others’ to see all the posts.)
Even more importantly, the effort worked! Thanks to this very vocal group of activists, the bill H.R. 4128 picked up four new cosponsors. Notable for their important roles on committees currently considering the bill, Arkansas’s John Boozman (R) responded to activist pleas by becoming a co-sponsor of the legislation, and Florida’s Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R) expressed strong support for the effort (though she hasn’t yet officially signed on). In addition, Lincoln Davis (D-TN), John W. Olver (D-MA), and Charles B. Rangel (D-NY) all became cosponsors of H.R. 4128.
In an unlikely coincidence, the Senate’s version of a bill aimed at ending the sordid trade in Congo’s conflict minerals also gained new supporters, bringing the tally of cosponsors for S. 891 up to 21:
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR)
Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA)
Sen. Joe Lieberman (ID-CT)
The advocacy push caught the attention of the media and bloggers as well, leading to stories in The Hill, the Miami Herald, and Congress.org. “Rep. John Boozman (R-Ark.) started following the Enough Project, run by the liberal Center for American Progress, on Twitter and tweeted on Thursday that he is ‘proud to help as a cosponsor of HR 4128 Conflict Minerals Trade Act,’” Congress.org’s Ambreen Ali reported.
"There was a tremendous show of support from activists across the country to end this horrendous conflict,” said Enough’s Advocacy Director Jenny Russell. “Change the Equation for Congo has proven the power of new media to reach lawmakers. Many activists wrote personalized messages on Facebook about how this conflict has impacted their lives.” Indeed, these personalized pleas with elected officials – and the sheer number of people who took action – proved to be a dynamite combination.
To follow up on the wildly successful Change the Equation campaign last week, Enough’s John Prendergast is on Capitol Hill today briefing Congressional staffers about the details of both the House and Senate conflict minerals bills. With all the attention focused on this issue right now, expect to hear more good news in the coming days and weeks as this important piece of legislation hits a tipping point. Help keep up the momentum by contacting your representative and senators to urge them to sign on (click here and here to see if they’re already cosponsors) or thank them for their support.
And thank YOU for your support.