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House of Representatives

Contact your Representatives:


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Visiting your Congressman

Meeting with members of Congress or congressional staff can be an effective way to convey a message about an important legislative issue. Please consider the following suggestions when you are planning your visit to a congressional office.

  • Plan your visit carefully. Determine in advance which member or committee staff you need to meet with to achieve your purpose. Be clear about what it is that you wish to achieve.
  • Make an Appointment. It is important, when attempting to meet with a member, to contact the Appointment Secretary/Scheduler. Explain who you represent and what your purpose is. It is a lot easier for congressional staff to arrange a meeting if the staff know what you wish to discuss and what your relationship is to the interests represented by the member.
  • Be Prompt and Be Patient. It is very important, once your meeting has been scheduled, that you are punctual and patient. Due to the hectic schedule of our Congress men & women, it is not uncommon for them to be late or to have a meeting interrupted. If there is an interruption in your meeting, be flexible. When the opportunity presents itself, continue your meeting with your Congress person's staff.
  • Be Prepared. Bring to the meeting any information or materials supporting your position. Members are required to take positions on many different issues. In some instances, a member may lack important details about the pros and cons of a particular matter. Therefore, it is helpful to share with the member information and examples that demonstrate clearly the impact or benefits associated with a particular issue or piece of legislation.
  • Be Political. Wherever possible, demonstrate the connection between what you are requesting and the interests of the member's constituency. Where it is appropriate, remember to ask for a commitment.
  • Be Responsive. Be prepared to provide additional information should the member express an interest or has more questions for you. Follow up the meeting with a thank you letter that outlines the different points covered during your meeting. Do not forget to include additional information or materials that the member requested.

Commonly Used Titles

To be the most effective in communicating with Congress, it is very helpful to understand the titles and principal functions of key staff.

Chief of Staff or Administrative Assistant: The Chief of Staff reports directly to the member of Congress. This person usually has overall responsibility for evaluating the political outcome of various legislative proposals and constituent requests. The Chief of Staff is usually the person in charge of overall office operations, assignment of work and the supervision of the key staff.

Legislative Director, Senior Legislative Assistant, or Legislative Coordinator: The Legislative Director is usually the staff person who monitors the legislative schedule. The Director will also make recommendations regarding the pros and cons of particular issues. There may be several Legislative Assistants in an office and the responsibilities are assigned to staff with particular expertise in certain areas (eg. an assistant for health issues, another assistant for environmental matter etc.)

Press Secretary or Communications Director: The Press Secretary's responsibility is to build and maintain open and effective lines of communication between the member, the member's constituency, and the general public. The Press Secretary is expected to know the demands, benefits, and special requirements of both print and electronic media, and how to most effectively promote the member's views or position on specific issues.

Appointment Secretary, Personal secretary, or Scheduler: The Appointment Secretary is usually responsible for allocating a member's time among the many demands that arise from congressional responsibilities, staff requirements, and constituent requests. The Appointment Secretary may also be responsible for arranging speaking engagements, travel arrangements, etc.

Caseworker: The Caseworker is the staff member usually assigned to help with constituent requests by preparing replies for the member's signature. The Caseworker's responsibilities can also include helping resolve problems constituents present in relation to federal agencies, e.g., Social Security & Medicare issues, veteran's benefits, etc. There are usually several Caseworkers in a congressional office.

Other titles that may be used in a congressional office include, but are not limited to: Executive Assistant, Legislative Correspondent and Executive Secretary.