After keeping Congress in session for an extra week, the House and Senate left for summer recess on Friday. Lawmakers considered cancelling their month-long summer break completely in order to make more progress on healthcare reform, but after Republicans' efforts to repeal Obamacare stalled last Friday, they decided to take the usual August recess.
Breaks from Washington, D.C. give representatives time to relax, but also offer opportunities to meet with their constituents and hear what issues the people in their states want them to tackle when they return. Many typically hold town halls, during which constituents can voice their opinions and ask their representative questions about policies or issues they're concerned about.
Whether you want to tell the people representing you in Congress your thoughts on healthcare reform, paid family leave, or U.S. sanctions on Russia, it's your right to voice your opinions and question your lawmakers. Spending an hour or two in a high school gym with your elected officials might not sound like the most fun use of your time, but it gives you the opportunity to take action and do something productive, whether you're fed up with the current administration or just want to see Congress get more done on the issues you care about.
It doesn't have to be all negative, either. Proud of the way your senator handled last week's healthcare madness? Show up and tell them to keep doing what they're doing.
The Town Hall Project has an online database that makes it incredibly easy to find lawmaker's upcoming events in your area. All you have to do is enter your zip code and the site will tell you exactly when and where your representatives are holding town halls.
As of Thursday, Republicans had 107 town halls planned and Democrats had 86, according to the Town Hall Project. So, it's likely there's one happening near you.
There are usually more events when Congress is on break, but you can check the Town Hall Project throughout the year to find upcoming town halls.