Meeting with Senators and Members of the House of Representatives
You may meet with your legislator at a state or district office or in the Washington, D.C., office. We are now focusing on meetings in the states. Proper preparation ahead of time is essential for ensuring a successful visit.
First, call to set up an appointment to meet the Senator or Representative. Most senators and representatives maintain one or more offices in the state or congressional district they represent. You can find the phone number in the U.S. government section of your telephone book, by calling information, or by going to the Member’s website (either www.senate.gov or www.house.gov).
If you wish to contact your legislator in the Washington, D.C., office (either the personal office or a committee office), use the Capitol switchboard to place the call or to obtain the phone number. Simply dial 202-224-3121 and ask for your legislator’s office. If the line is busy, try the aforementioned sources for the Member’s direct office number or use the Internet – www.senate.gov and www.house.gov.
When attempting to meet with a member, contact the Appointment Secretary/Scheduler in the office. If you already know someone in the office, contact him or her to start the process. Explain your purpose and whom you are representing.
When you meet, remember the following:
- If you go with colleagues, keep your group small and manageable.
- Make certain that each member of the group knows her/his role and what s/he will say. Designate one person to be the informal “chairperson” of the meeting to introduce the issue, refer to others for their presentations, and draw the meeting to a close.
- Plan your presentation.
- Limit your visit to discussing the Elder Justice Act and related local examples.
- Remember that what you hope to get out of the meeting is co-sponsorship and support for the Elder Justice Act.
- Be courteous and respectful to staff members as well as the legislator.
- Keep your message brief, to the point, and simple, but don’t talk down or be condescending. Give concrete examples of how the issue affects constituents in the state or district.
- If you don’t know the answer to a question, don’t make it up. Offer to find out and send information back to the office later.
- Listen to your legislator’s responses. Find out if he or she has heard opposing views. If so, find out what the arguments are and what groups are involved.
- Leave the EJA one-page summary, the EJA co-sponsor lists, and the EJC membership list in the office with the legislator or staff member when you leave.
- Don’t forget to ask for the co-sponsorship of the Elder Justice Act from the legislator or staff member.
- Ask for a letter from the Senator or Representative stating his position on the EJC and whether he/she will cosponsor the bill.
- Follow up your visit with a thank you note.