Meeting with a member of Congress or Congressional staff is an effective way to convey a message about a specific legislative issue. You can visit your member on Capitol Hill or in his/her district office during recess. Consider the suggestions below when planning a visit to a Congressional office.
Determine in advance which member or committee staff you need to meet with to achieve your purpose, and be clear about what it is you want to achieve. It is helpful to have a legislative “ask” to make of your member of Congress—i.e., the specific action you want your Senator and Representative to take. Consult AALL’s advocacy resources for priority issues and talking points. Please contact Emily Feltren, AALL’s director of government relations, if you need assistance.
Schedule an Appointment
When attempting to meet with a member, contact the Scheduler in the office you wish to meet. Explain your purpose and who you represent. Most importantly, let them know that you are a constituent! Many offices will require that scheduling requests be provided in writing. If this is the case, be sure to include all relevant information in your request, including who you are, where you live, when you want to meet, and what you wish to discuss. It’s a good idea to follow up written requests with phone calls to the office.
If your member of Congress is unavailable to meet at the requested time, you can instead meet with a member of his/her staff. AALL can advise you about which members of staff would be most helpful to meet for the issue you wish to discuss. Staff members will relay your concerns and opinions to the member of Congress. Treat these meetings just as you would a meeting with your member—they are equally important and often more productive!
Bring materials with information supporting your position to leave behind with the member of Congress or his/her staff, such as AALL’s advocacy one-pagers. It is helpful to share information about the pros and cons of a particular matter with your member of Congress so he/she can make an informed opinion. It is also helpful to know the opposing view so you can rebut the other side. Be sure to share your personal experiences with your member.
Send a thank you note to whomever you met with in your member of Congress’s office. Include any follow up materials you offered to provide. Please use AALL’s report-back form to let us know how it went and if any follow-up is needed.