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Americans of all political persuasions are fed up with toxic chemicals: Time for Congress to catch up.

Americans of all political persuasions By Lindsay Dahl
Deputy Campaign Director
Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families

It was just a year ago that I moved to Washington D.C. to work for the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families coalition. Before moving to our nation’s capitol, I thought I had a good sense of just how deeply divided and partisan this city is. I had no idea.

Not only is Congress split by our two-party system, but people are unwilling to have a good old fashioned policy debate. They don’t even want to be neighbors. Republican staff tend to live in southeast D.C., and Democratic staff gravitate to the northwest. They eat at different restaurants, drink at different bars. The divide extends far beyond the filibusters and political rhetoric that news media outlets like to pick up. The partisan divide, sadly, is what defines this city of late.

I moved here from Minnesota, where I worked with public health and environmental advocates to pass state legislation to protect the public from toxic chemicals. Rounding up bi-partisan support for our bills in Minnesota was not easy. We spent hours talking to legislators on all parts of the political spectrum. Some people called us tenacious and fearless. We just thought it was common sense. Democrat, Republican, Green or Independent, people understand that chronic diseases are on the rise. They know chemicals have something to do with it. And they know that the government plays a key role in protecting us.

The Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families coalition recently conducted polling research with Mark Mellman, one of D.C.’s top pollsters. The polling data showed, overwhelming bi-partisan support for strong reform of our nation’s weak laws. Our poll shows that 94% of Democrats, 77% of Independents, and 70% of Republicans support legislation that would make chemical manufacturers responsible for demonstrating their products are safe before they enter the marketplace.

[pullquote]/The polling data merely confirms what we know from our grassroots organizing, this issue has the potential to bridge the divide between Democrats and Republicans./[/pullquote]

To do this, our campaign is in the middle of an urgent and fun campaign to show broad support for the Toxic Chemical Safety Act (HR 5820), new legislation introduced by Chairmen Bobby Rush and Henry Waxman. We are working hard to get Members of Congress to co-sponsor the bill, and we need your help. When a Member of Congress co-sponsors a bill, they are making a symbolic gesture of support, standing alongside the bill sponsors to protect public health and the environment from toxic chemicals.

We want your House Representative to be listed as a co-sponsor, and we need your help to make that happen. Representatives like Janice Shakowsky (IL), Martin Heinrich (NM), Eliott Engel (NY) and G.K. Butterfield (NC) come from very different parts of the United States, representing vastly different constituencies, and yet they all have shown their support for protecting public health. (See below for full co-sponsor list)

I want to thank all of the Members of Congress who have already co-sponsored this legislation, and hope to be thanking many more offices in coming weeks.

Here’s where you come in. We need you to make a two-minute phone call today to ask your Representative to co-sponsor this bill. There is less than a week left that Members can sign on in support of this bill before they head back home to campaign for the upcoming election. Please call today! Here are a few simple steps:

  1. Find out who represents you in Congress.
  2. Never called your Congressional Representatives? No prob! When you call, a friendly person will answer the phone and take down your comment. Don’t be afraid, they won’t challenge you or ask hard questions. (More tips for calling your Rep. from Healthy Child Healthy World)
  3. Tell them that you are a constituent and you strongly urge your Representative to co-sponsor the Toxic Chemical Safety Act HR 5820.
  4. If your Representative is listed as a co-sponsor, be sure to thank them!
  5. Then tell your friends, family and co-workers to call. Your phone calls make all the difference.
  6. If you’d prefer sending an email, you can do so here.

Remember, you shouldn’t have to worry about which cleaners you use, which toys to buy your niece, and which chemicals your water filter may not be catching. We need strong leadership from our federal government and chemicals should be proven safe before they end up in our lives.

We all know this issue transcends political ideologies, we know reform needs to happen now. Call today, you won’t regret it. In fact, you might be energized!