Write a letter or fax, send e-mail or call your elected representatives to let them know how you want them to vote on your issue. Always ask for a reply.
Note, postal letters to Congress and the White House will be delayed by several weeks due to security screening. For fast communications; visit, fax, call or email.
|The Honorable Barack Obama
The White House
Washington, DC 20500
E-mail Contact Form:
The White House
Vice President Joe Biden
First Lady Michelle Obama
Dear Mr. President:
|The Honorable (Full Name)
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Mr./Mrs. (Last Name):
The Honorable (Full Name)
Send email and FAXes to your Representatives and Senators, using the "Find Your Representatives" function on the right-hand side of this page.
Send them a message!
To call your Senators or Congressman, call the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121, and ask to be connected to their offices. You can call the White House at 202-456-1111. When you call, you can leave your opinion with the receptionist, who may relay it to the member; but much better yet, ask to speak to the Legislative Assistant (or "L.A." in Capitol slang) who deals with your issue. The LA is the person who studies particular issues and makes recommendations directly to the Congressman, therefore a brief conversation with the LA will be much more effective.
Do not only give a bill number (H.R. 1234), but also describe the bill you are calling about or give it's name--Congress considers thousands of bills every year and most bill numbers are not well known even to the staff. You can describe the bill by it's result or action: "S. 2611, the amnesty bill which allows 100 million immigrants over 20 years."
Before visiting or writing a letter/fax, you can call the office and find out if the member is for, against, or undecided on your issue, allowing you to tailor your request for action to the member's position. Particularly during big debates over important legislation, various citizens organizations or the media will list each member's positions on their websites. Talk shows may also name those members most needing calls and letters. Those members supporting or opposing a particular bill will often tell you the positions of other members. An internet search can help find those making statements in support or opposition to an issue.
Bill Status: When talking to Congressional staff or even encouraging your friends to call their representatives, it's best to know the status of a bill. If you call and merely say "please vote for HR 1234", this request may be meaningless as a bill must first be debated in a subcommittee, approved, sent to the full committee, debated and approved, and only then can it be sent to the floor for a vote. Most bills don't make it out of the subcommittee. Therefore if a bill is parked in a subcommittee and no debate has been scheduled by the chairman, your correct action would be to call the members of that subcommittee and ask that they schedule debate and vote for it in the subcommittee--or to prevent hearings and a vote if it is a liberal bill. You should also call your own representative (who may not be on that subcommittee) and ask him to co-sponsor the bill and urge his colleagues to co-sponsor it too. Co-sponsoring good bills helps build credibility and support for the bill. Go to http://thomas.loc.gov to find the status, including cosponsors, of any bill.
Search the web or contact your city/county/town governments for the addresses, phone numbers, and E-Mail addresses of your city/county/town representatives.
Vital Email Rules: Remember that Congress is swamped with email and that they will never read or respond to emails from out of their state/district. Offices ceased using real email addresses in favor of website contact forms to enforce the policy. Because each representative's votes affect the entire country, and committee members have incredible power, we agree that it is wrong for them to limit their email and letters in this way, but it is a fact of life, and therefore sending messages to others than your own will have no effect. Thus it's a better investment of your time to email just your own Congressman and Senators, then ask your friends and family in other states and districts to contact their representatives. If you are a representative of a group or company which has members or customers in another state/district, you can write a (postal or faxed) letter on that letterhead and it should get some attention.
Directories and Apps: Both the House and Senate have online directories of members, with links to their individual websites. The Senate list also has email links. Commercial companies also offer printed and electronic directories offering great detail on each off and staff.. There are various smartphone apps which make contacting members easy. "Congress 411" and Carmen Group's "Congress" app are very good free iPhone apps which list all members, there are others specializing in contacting and following Twitter feeds from your own members; and there are paid apps with more info.
Congress may sometimes seem reluctant to hear comments from their voters--this is partly a reaction to the great volume of comments they receive, but also a reflection that some do not want their voters to know how they really vote, nor do some want to encourage voters to take effective action to disturb 'business as usual.'
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