Heritage Action for America, more commonly known simply as "Heritage Action," is a conservative policy advocacy organization, founded in 2010. It works with citizen activists nationwide to generate support for legislation in the U.S. Congress. The organization has state operations in North Carolina and Pennsylvania and is a sister organization of the conservative think tank, The Heritage Foundation. Heritage Action has been called a "powerhouse in a new generation of conservative groups" and "perhaps now the most influential lobby group among Congressional Republicans." It is led by chief executive Michael A. Needham.
The organization was launched primarily as a response to The Heritage Foundation's growing membership, and the fact that The Heritage Foundation is not allowed to back pieces of legislation due to its 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. Heritage Action fulfills this role and provides a link between the think tank and grassroots conservative activists. Heritage Action was first announced in April 2010 by Ed Feulner, president of The Heritage Foundation. He stated the purpose of the organization was to harness "grassroots energy to increase the pressure on Members of Congress to embrace The Heritage Foundation’s policy recommendations." He also stated it would not be involved in election campaigns.
Heritage Action launched its first advocacy campaign in July 2010, targeting Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), President Barack Obama's health care reform law. By August 2010 the organization had helped to secure 170 Republican co-sponsors for a petition by Rep. Steve King to force a vote on repealing the healthcare reform. Following this, in September 2010, the group began a 10-day television and web campaign to persuade Democrats to sign onto a repeal of the law. The group opened its state operations in North Carolina and Pennsylvania in January 2011, specifically to focus on mobilizing voters against the health care law.
Heritage Action received attention in late 2010 for its opposition to the New START treaty, an agreement between the United States and Russia to reduce nuclear weapons. The organization sent out fliers to a targeted group of conservatives in Tennessee, which argued that the treaty could lead to nuclear proliferation.
Heritage Action launched a campaign in August 2013 to link the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as the ACA or "Obamacare," with laws to keep the federal government open or to increase the federal debt limit. The organization played an instrumental role in the government shutdown of October 2013. While the shutdown was ongoing Heritage Action continued to urge lawmakers not to negotiate a measure to fully fund the government without dismantling the ACA. The strategy of Heritage Action in tying the ACA to the shutdown, according to Needham, was to make President Obama "feel pain" because of the shutdown.  Senator Orrin Hatch criticized Heritage for warning legislators not to vote for the Senate budget compromise during the government shutdown of 2013:
There's a real question on the minds of many Republicans now -- I am not just speaking for myself, for a lot of people: Is Heritage going to go so political that it really doesn't amount to anything anymore? I hope not. I'm going to try to help it survive and do well. Right now I think it's in danger of losing its clout and its power around Washington, D.C.
- H.R. 273 - 113th Congress - Heritage Action expressed support for H.R. 273 (113th Congress) to eliminate the 2013 statutory pay adjustment for Federal employees. The bill would overrule President Obama's December 27, 2012 Executive Order #13635, which would end the on-going pay freeze and give civilian federal employees a 0.5% raise in 2013. According to the Congressional Budget Office, this measure would save the federal government $11 billion over 10 years. The bill passed the United States House of Representatives in the 113th United States Congress on February 15, 2013.
Heritage Actions is supported by individual and corporate donors, with a substantial portion coming from small donations of $5,000 or less. In October of 2013, Needham admitted "under intense questioning" that Heritage Action was "not being transparent" with their donors as they have generally declined to disclose who their donors are.  One exception to this is a donation from conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch: they donated half a million dollars in October of 2013. 
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