Guide to Contacting Congress

2 min read

One paramount aspect of the U.S. political system is accessibility to lawmakers. However, it’s more complicated than calling up Representatives, or Senators and voicing concern.

To be effective you must be pro-active in cultivating relationships with elected officials. Getting lawmakers’ attention, means hearing from their constituents.

We each have one Representative representing our Congressional district and two Senators representing the state.

  • U.S. House of Representatives,
  • U.S. Senate,

Call the local office to speak with your Congressman’s “district manager” (title may vary). Request an appointment with the district manager or elected official.

Local meeting.

  • Plan Your Visit Carefully. Know your purpose and who you’re meeting.
  • Make an Appointment.
  • Be Prompt and Patient.
  • Be Prepared with essential information/materials. Concisely explain housing tax credits and request that the elected official contact the Chairperson of the appropriate committee(s) to voice interest on the issue. Get the name of the legislative staff member in Washington who deals with housing matters.
  • Be Political. Demonstrate the connection between your request and the interests of their constituency. Illustrate how you can be of assistance.
  • Be Responsive and ready to answer questions or provide additional information.

Afterwards, follow-up with a thank you letter summarizing the issue(s).

A Call to Congress is also effective for getting your message across to legislators, especially if there’s an impending vote on a housing tax credit issue. Elected officials’ phone numbers are searchable through the online congressional directory or switchboard.

  • U.S. Senate Switchboard: (202) 224-3121
  • U.S. House of Representatives Switchboard: (202) 225-3121

Leave a succinct message along with reasons for supporting/opposing the issue with a congressional staffer – “Please tell Senator/Representative (Name) that I support/oppose (S.___/H.R.___).”

In a Letter to Congress identify yourself as a constituent and use a proper salutation – salutations found on State your purpose in the first paragraph. If writing about specific legislation, identify it (e.g. House: H.R.__; Senate: S.__).

Keep comments brief, pertinent and factual. Be courteous, constructive and use examples – explain how the issue would affect you and/or your organization.