Saturday, March 8, 2014

Contact A Congressman

They're your representatives in Congress; you pay their salary and they work for you. So there is no reason why you can't contact your Congressional representative. You might want to explain why you think she should vote a certain way on a bill, or get him to help solve a problem you're having with the federal bureaucracy. Here are some simple steps to help you do so.


1. Decide what you need. If you have an opinion to share on an issue, a message directly to the Representative may be best. But if you need help resolving a problem with the federal bureaucracy, you will want to contact an aide working in that area. Check the Representative's website for a staff list, or call the office and ask who might be the appropriate person to help you.

2. Send an email. The U.S. House of Representatives website has a feature that lets you send a message to most representatives (no attachments). To locate your Congressional representative, you'll need to find your state or territory on a drop down menu and plug in your 9-digit zip code, or check the Representative's website for an email address, and send your note directly.

3. Call. You can look up the direct dial number for your member of Congress or you can call the U.S. House switchboard at (202) 225-3121 to be connected to any number.

4. Use snail mail. Find the contact information for your Representative from the House website or a current reference book, and send a letter. If you refer to a specific piece of legislation, use the bill number. Many members feel a letter mailed through the Postal Service carries more weight than an email since it involves more time and effort.

5. Schedule a meeting. Contact the Representative's office and ask for an appointment. You may not get to see the Representative, but face time with an aide can be just as productive. If you aren't near Washington, contact their district office. It also has a full staff of people assigned to helping constituents like you.

Tips Warnings

Your odds for talking directly to your Congressional Representative are low, so be prepared to make your point to an aide. Their time is limited, so state your case succinctly.

Use the following (in letter form) to write to your Representative: The Honorable (full name); (Room #) (Name) House Office Building; United States, House of Representatives; Washington, DC 20515; Dear Representative:

When sending a letter, check your spelling and facts. You lose credibility when you make mistakes.

Some Congressional watchdog groups keep a list of email addresses.

When speaking with an aide, never be profane or insulting.

Not all Congressmen have email accounts and the government doesn't keep a list of all Representatives that do.

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