NJ 11th for Change welcomed Rep. Frelinghuysen's Friday-morning statement that he is now opposed to the AHCA. Over the last few months, our group has organized a sustained effort with thousands of members calling, visiting, mailing, faxing, and showing up – all urging the congressman to vote against taking health care away from more than 30,000 fellow constituents. Mr. Frelinghuysen’s statement shows that these tireless voices of our grassroots organization were heard loud and clear, together with countless citizens across the district.
What started in November as a few dozen folks on a Facebook page became a few thousand members by early January, when NJ 11th For Change started regular visits to Rep. Frelinghuysen’s District Office. Three people showed up at the first #FridaywithFrelinghuysen. The following week, it was 35. And then it was more than 150. By February, the numbers were reaching 350, then more than 450 constituents. Every subsequent Friday, our members continue to visit Rep. Frelinghuysen’s offices, voicing their concerns about affordable care, Russian interference, environmental protections, and many other urgent federal issues.
The effort to protest repeal of the ACA involved thousands of NJ-11 constituents making uncountable thousands of calls, letters, and in-person visits. Postcards, posters, creative memes, editorial cartoons, and videos all soon followed, as our group movement continued to grow. A website launched. Volunteers wrote releases and organized press outreach. (There are more than 114 stories posted at http://www.nj11thforchange.org/press.)
We repeatedly asked Mr. Frelinghuysen for a face-to-face Town Hall meeting, delivering to his staff a petition with more than 3000 signatures. When there was no response, we organized six Town Halls during the February District Work period. Rep. Frelinghuysen declined our repeated invitations to directly address constituent concerns. So we assembled policy experts who did their best to answer the questions of 1200 attendees in person and more than 25,000 participating via livestream.
Until AHCA, Rep. Frelinghuysen had fallen in line with President Trump and Speaker Ryan for every single vote of the 115th Congress. That he broke with the Trump/Ryan agenda on health care reform is a direct result of the pressure NJ11th For Change brought to bear.
This afternoon, the health bill was scrapped after GOP lawmakers realized there were not enough votes to assure its approval. NJ 11th For Change will continue to vigilantly watch Rep. Frelinghuysen to ensure that he is steadfast in representing his constituents' interests. We will monitor that the Congressman's future actions match today's statement and the expectations of the thousands of constituents who demanded he protect our care.