Contacting the House
Tips on Communication with your Representative
Remember that telephone calls are often taken by a staff member, not the member of Congress, ask to speak with the aide who handles the issue to which you wish to comment. After identifying yourself, tell the aide you would like to leave a brief message, such as: "Please tell Senator/Representative (Name) that I support/oppose (S.___/H.R.8___)."
You will also want to state reasons for your support or opposition to the bill. Ask for your Senator's or Representative's position on the bill. You may also request a written response to your telephone call.
Tips On Writing Congress
The letter is the most popular choice of communication with a congressional office. If you decide to write a letter, this list of helpful suggestions will improve the effectiveness of the letter:
- Your purpose for writing should be stated in the first paragraph of the letter. If your letter pertains to a specific piece of legislation, identify it accordingly, e.g., House bill: H. R. ____, Senate bill: S.____.
- Be courteous, to the point, and include key information, using examples to support your position. Address only one issue in each letter; and, if possible, keep the letter to one page.
To a Senator:
The Honorable (full name)
__(Rm.#)__(name of)Senate Office Building
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
To a Representative:
The Honorable (full name)
__(Rm.#)__(name of)House Office Building
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Note: When writing to the Chair of a Committee or the Speaker of the House, it is proper to address them as:
Dear Mr. Chairman or Madam Chairwoman: or Dear Mr. Speaker
Learning to Lobby
One very important responsibility of HR professionals is to stay informed of current legislative issues. State and Federal law defines a lot of what HR departments must do. It is our responsibility to keep our legislators informed of how proposed legislation would affect the organizations we work for and the people who work for those organizations.
It is the goal of HRAM to assist the members of the Association in their quest to stay informed and make a difference. Please contact a Legislative Committee Chair if you would like additional help with a legislative issue, or if you would like to participate on the Legislative Committee. The legislative committee is responsible for keeping abreast of legislation that affects human resource issues on a national, state, and local level, and keeping members apprised of relevant legislative issues, write letters, testify on behalf of the Association, and take other appropriate action based on HRAM's position.
How you can impact the legislative process?
Make personal contact with your State Senator to address your cause!
Tips on meeting with your Senator:
- Be brief; truthful; clear; accurate; persuasive; and courteous.
- Know something about the legislator's background. Be aware if he/she is in a position to have greater influence over a bill. For example: Is he/she a sponsor of the bill you are addressing or a member of the committee hearing a proposal in which you are interested?
- Even if you have an appointment, the legislator may not be available. In this case, speak with an aide. Legislative staff can be valuable allies. Treat them with respect.
- You will have limited time. Be prepared to state your case in five minutes or less. Present two or three major points. Don't let the legislator eat up your time with small talk or avoidance of the issue.
- Give special recognition to legislators who have been supportive or your position/issues.
- Be clear about what you want the legislator to do, i.e. oppose or support a bill. When the visit ends, you want to have a firm answer or strong sense of his/her position (oppose, support, undecided).
- Be a good listener; give the legislator a chance to state his/her point of view. This helps to determine what might help sway him/her to your position. Be attentive to body language.
- You are not expected to be an expert. If you don't know something, say so. Tell the legislator you will get the answer. Send the information with your follow-up letter.
- If you realize you made an erroneous statement, don't beat yourself up. We all make mistakes. Simply follow up with an apology and correct the information.
- Do not argue, threaten or be rude. You lose your effectiveness and credibility, and harm the efforts of those who follow you to lobby on the same issue.
- Even if dissatisfied with the visit, leave on a friendly note and with a firm handshake. Thank the legislator for his/her time.
- It is advisable to record a summary of your visit for future reference. Complete the summary as soon as possible to ensure greater accuracy.
- Send a follow-up letter. Restate your position and what you want. Enclose information the legislator may have requested; you didn't get an opportunity to present; and/or information you think he/she needs based on your conversation. Maintain contact. Over time, your senator may come to see you as a valuable resource on particular issues.