Lobby your members of Congress

by Amanda Rusmisell
Legislative Liaison and Administrator of Essure Problems/Secretary of ASHES Nonprofit

 


Who represents me?

The first step is to find out who your members of congress are:

Find your representative

Find your senators

Find your Congress members

How do I contact my Representative or Senator?

Each representative and senator has a website with their contact information for both their Washington, D.C. office and their district offices. Meetings may take place in the district or in the Washington office. You may request to meet with your representative or senator directly. Please be aware their schedules are tight and you may be directed to a staff member for the meeting.

The meetings in the district are usually with general staff members, while meetings in D.C. may be with an aide that covers the specific subject matter you are discussing. If meeting in the Washington office, try to find out the name of the aide you would like to meet with by searching on the internet, for example: "Senator John Doe and Health Aide". Be aware that there is a lot of movement in staff in Congressional offices.

How do I meet with my Representative or Senator?

• If you have the name of the aide, call directly and request to speak to the staff member covering the topic you wish to discuss. They may direct you to the office’s scheduling coordinator, place you in direct touch with the aide, or direct you to the website to fill out a meeting request form. Be prepared to follow up with the office to check on the status of the meeting request.

• Each office has guidelines for when they will begin scheduling meetings. It is recommended to begin the process one month ahead of time.

• An accompanying email note may help your request, especially if it includes helpful context (news articles, stories, data, etc.) that may help outline your topic.

• If you have a House or Senate bill number, be sure to include that in the subject line of the email.

• Follow-up is the key. Keep detailed records on when you should be calling back. Also, establishing a relationship with the staff members can help expedite the process overall.

Prepare for the meeting

The meeting spaces are small, and it works best to bring three or four individuals to the meeting. The length of the meeting may be short (10 minutes) or longer (up to an hour). Plan out with the group what talking points will be covered during the meeting. It is always most effective to bring constituents to help show local impact.

Materials to bring

Prepare a one page handout highlighting your issues and requests. It should be an easy to read and concise. If it is not possible to bring constituents, prepare a list of constituents with their contact information (name, address, city, zip code, email, phone number). Be sure to include your contact information on the handout.

Meeting Follow-up

On the day of the meeting, have constituents contact the office immediately to thank the staff for meeting with the delegation and to urge the Member of Congress to support the issue.

Within 48 hours, send an email summarizing the information, your requests, and thanking attendees for their time. Include any specific information the staffer requested during the meeting. Plan to continue reaching out to your contacts to keep them informed about any updates or relevant news you have, in an effort to continue the conversation.