Communicating with a Member of Congress
Letters, Faxes and Emails
Personal handwritten letters are still the most effective means of communicating with a member of Congress. But if you don't have the time to write and mail a letter, consider sending a fax or email instead. Whichever method you choose, the same suggestions apply for composing your message:
- State the reason that you're writing in the first paragraph. If you're writing about a particular bill, refer to the bill by its number, for example, S. 1020 or H.R. 1100.
- Make two or three strong factual points to support your position.
- Briefly state why this issue matters to you. If it affects you, a family member, or your community directly, say so.
- If applicable, make a brief connection to the member. For instance, if you voted for him or her, worked for his or her campaign, or would like to support this member of Congress in the future, include that information.
- Clearly state the outcome you expect, e.g., that you want your senator or representative to support a project in your state or district, or to vote a certain way on a bill.
- Be courteous (of course you knew that already).
- Above all, keep it short. Preferably no longer than one page. Members of Congress and their staffs are extremely busy, and lengthy messages are less likely to be completely read.
Don't expect to speak to your actual senator or representative on the phone; instead you'll most likely speak with a member of his or her staff. When you call:
- Ask to speak with the staff member who handles the issue or bill in which you have an interest.
- Identify yourself, and identify the issue with which you are concerned. If it's a specific bill, identify the bill by its S. or H.R. number.
- Briefly state your reason for calling. For instance, "I'd like to know Representative X's position on H.R. 1100." Or, "I'd like Senator Y to know that I strongly oppose S. 234 because ______."
- If you would like a reply from your congressperson, let the staff member know.
- Keep the call short and courteous. Remember to thank the staff member for his or her time.