Promising Practices Promising PracticesPromising Practices
A forum for government's best ideas and most innovative leaders.

Giant Duck Urges Lame Duck Congress to Avoid Fiscal Cliff

The Capitol grounds had a temporary lawn ornament Wednesday as Oxfam America activists dressed as Senate and House leaders and danced around a giant, inflatable duck to ask the lame duck session of Congress to protect foreign aid programs. The Capitol grounds had a temporary lawn ornament Wednesday as Oxfam America activists dressed as Senate and House leaders and danced around a giant, inflatable duck to ask the lame duck session of Congress to protect foreign aid programs. SHFWire photo by Tanya Parker

What do Congress, the can-can and a giant, inflatable duck have in common? A lot, as it turns out.

With the 15-foot tall yellow rubber duck behind them, the Senate minority leader did a high kick, and the House minority leader swiveled her hips, all in the name of preserving poverty programs.

But the real congressional leaders were inside the Capitol. Outside on the lawn, Oxfam America activists donned giant masks of congressional leaders and danced around the duck to tuneful quacking to encourage members of Congress not to “duck their responsibilities” during the lame duck session.

Linda Delgado, director of government affairs at Oxfam America, said the stunt is intended to urge Congress not to cut the budget for poverty-focused assistance for fiscal year 2013.

But why the duck? Oxfam took a punny approach to a serious message.

“Well, you know, we wanted to come up with something that was positive, a little bit edgy, a little bit funny, and yet that had the key message,” Delgado said. “And since this is a lame duck session and many lame duck members of Congress are going to be making key decisions, we thought, why not have a duck?”

The four party leaders were singled out at the demonstration. Oxfam volunteers wore masks of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.; Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.; House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

After the demonstration, Delgado said, Oxfam activists would deliver packets of yellow, duck-shaped candies to each Senate and House office asking them to fund poverty-focused accounts before potential automatic cuts kick in. She said global poverty assistance programs are often targeted for budget cuts because there aren’t people fighting for them. Oxfam America is one organization fighting for the cause, and a giant duck certainly demands attention.

“It’s a tiny part of the budget,” Delgado said. “It’s 0.6 percent of the budget and it often gets targeted with what, today, we’re calling ugly duck cuts.”

Capitol Hill visitors passed by the performance seemingly confused about Washington’s new lawn ornament, but amused nonetheless.

As far as reaching the newly elected members of Congress who don’t yet have offices, Delgado said they are doing the best they can.

“Obviously, we don’t have the capacity to cover everybody, but we will work in coalition with many other organizations to make sure that every single new member gets a briefing on this issue, that their staff get a briefing and that we are educating them on this key issue,” Delgado said.

In a press release issued by Oxfam America, Delgado said “the leadership in the House and Senate must get their ducks in a row and support Senate funding levels for poverty-focused development assistance.”

Oxfam America will continue its efforts throughout the lame duck session of Congress.

It is unclear if more ducks will be involved.

Tanya Parker is a senior broadcast journalism and Spanish student at the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University. Originally from Perry, Ohio, Tanya is the producer of Athens’ local entertainment news program, “Straight Up!” Tanya has also reported, anchored and produced for “Athens Midday,” and served as the multimedia producer for the online environmental magazine, College Green Magazine, for one year. In addition to broadcast, Tanya worked as the Wit & Banter columnist at The Post, an independent, student-run newspaper at Ohio University.

Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.