What is the best way to make contact?
Calls and meetings are most effective, but an influx of e-mail messages on an issue can make a significant impact. Be sure to include your postal address, especially on e-mails, so it is clear that you are a constituent. You may receive a written reply from your Representative's or Senator's office explaining his or her position on the issue you inquired about.
What topics should I discuss?
You may contact your Representative or Senator about general issues, but you will have an even greater influence if your request relates to a specific piece of legislation currently being considered in Congress.
How effective are form letters?
Electronic form letters allow a large number of people to quickly and conveniently express their opinion to their Members of Congress. However, personalized messages are taken more seriously than form letters. Most electronic form letters allow you to make adjustments of your own. Always try to include a personal statement about why this issue is important to you.
How much should I prepare?
You don't need to be an expert on an issue before you contact your Member of Congress. If you call or schedule a meeting, you will speak to an office staff member who will convey your message to the Representative or Senator. Don't worry if you can't answer all of his or her questions; just make sure to explain politely why this issue is important to you.
The issues and campaigns featured on this site all have factsheets and talking points which you may print out and either send to your Representative or give to his or her staff member during a meeting.
Should I contact my Senator or my Representative?
You may contact both, but you will have a greater impact if you contact a member about legislation that will be or has already been introduced into his or her chamber. That is, if a bill is under active consideration in the House, you'll want to call your Representative.
How do I schedule a visit?
Call the Member of Congress' office (look up your U.S. House Representative's phone numbers here or your U.S. Senators' numbers here) and tell the staff person that you would like to schedule a meeting. Indicate approximately how many people will join you. You don't have to come to Washington to meet with your Representative! House members have one or more offices in their home district, and U.S. Senators have offices around their state, usually in the capital city. One of these offices is likely close to your home. Most often, constituents meet with an office staff member, not the Member of Congress. The staff member then passes along your message.
What is a co-sponsor?
A co-sponsor is a Member of Congress who has signed on to officially support a piece of legislation before a vote. Co-sponsors are important because they encourage other legislators to join in support.
To see if your Member of Congress is a co-sponsor of a particular piece of legislation, check GovTrack.us's legislative page and search for the name of the bill. If your Member of Congress is already a co-sponsor, call to thank him or her and ask him or her to continue to push the bill through the legislative process. If your Representative is not a co-sponsor of legislation that you support, you can ask him or her to sign on to support the bill.