Meet Your Member of Congress Locally During an Upcoming Recess

Special Notes for Organizations
If you’re representing an organization, we wanted to make sure you took note of this additional information:

  • The more specific and localized data you can bring to the meeting, the better the meeting will go! If you have handouts about your program or healthy housing issues in your community, be sure to bring them along!
  • If you were interested in inviting your member of Congress to speak at an event or participate in a site visit, take a look at our sample event invite letter.
  • Some organizations have concerns about their ability to lobby members of Congress. Remember, visiting with your member of Congress and educating them about your program is NOT lobbying if you do not mention specific legislation. Note that 501(c)(3) organizations are permitted to lobby as a small portion of their activities. We’re happy to talk with you more about what you can and can’t do around lobbying restrictions if you have further questions.

Step One: Pick a Date
Choose a date for your event or meeting when your representative will be in-district. If you can be flexible on the date, there’s a greater chance your member of Congress will attend. Upcoming recesses for representatives, when they are home in their districts, are:

  • July 30-August 31, 2018*
  • September 17-24, , 2018
  • October 15-November 12, 2018*

*The Senate is also in recess during all or most of these periods if you’d like to invite or meet with your senator(s).

To view the full calendars of 2018 recess and in-session dates, visit this calendar for representatives and this calendar for senators.

National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, from October 21-27, 2018, is also a good time to contact your member of Congress, even if they’re in session.

Frequently asked questions:

  • How much time should I allow for a meeting or event?
    Meetings typically run for up to 30 minutes.
  • How far should I schedule a meeting or event in advance?
    It’s a good idea to reach out to schedule in-district meetings or events at least two weeks in advance.
  • If I know I will be in DC during session, should I schedule a meeting there?
    Yes, you can arrange meetings in the district as well; however, schedules in DC are more liable to change, especially during session. If you’re in town, feel free to reach out to us to plan a joint meeting.
  • Should I invite my senator or representative?
    Choose whom to contact based on the following factors: any previous relationship with the member, whether the member has a position on a relevant committee, and whether they have shown personal interest in your issue. Representatives are more likely to be able to attend an event. 

Step Two: Invite Your Member of Congress

How to contact your member:

  • Find your representative here; find your senators here.
  • Follow the links to his or her website.
  • Members may have a meeting request form or publicly list their scheduler’s email. Look for pages called:
    • Meeting request/schedule a meeting
    • Contact me
  • Use our sample letters to write your messages:
  • Submit the meeting request or invitation AND follow up by phone…persistently.

Frequently asked questions:

  • To whom should I address my message?
    Address event invitations and meeting requests to the member of Congress.
  • How should I follow up?
    After the initial meeting request/invite, follow up by phone within the next few days to ensure receipt of message.

Step Three: Prepare

To prepare for your meeting:

  • Review some talking points on healthy homes, lead poisoning, and asthma.
  • Review our healthy housing agency fact sheets.
  • Look at our Hill interaction resources for ideas about engaging with members of Congress, hosting events, and sharing stories.
  • Check out our sample agenda for your meeting (coming soon).

Frequently asked questions:

  • What constitutes lobbying? Who can lobby?
    Remember: Visiting with your member of Congress and educating them about your program is NOT lobbying if you do not mention specific legislation. You’ll find more details about what does and does not constitute lobbying here. Note that 501(c)(3) organizations are permitted to lobby.
  • Whom should I bring to the meeting?
    It’s best to bring both people who can talk about the technical aspects of your program or issue and people with a personal story to share.
  • How do I pick which topics to talk about?
    Talk about the issues that are most pressing for you and your district. Keep the focus narrow and to the point: how these programs have tangible consequences for your organization or community. 

Step Four: Attend the Meeting

Items to bring to the meeting:

Frequently asked questions:

  • With whom can I expect to meet?
    A meeting will likely be with the member’s staff. Remember, the staff person directly influences the policy position of their member.
  • What questions should I ask?
    Ask about the member’s priorities with respect to healthy housing and your program. Ask what further information you can provide. Feel free to offer to follow-up with the correct information if you don’t know the answer to a question.
  • How do I balance discussing facts and sharing my personal story?
    Opening with a story or testimony is a great way to begin a meeting before moving into a discussion of the facts.

Step Five: Follow Up

Remember to write or call the office and thank them for the meeting.
If you have pictures from an event, share them on social media and tag us or use #FindFixFund!

Frequently asked questions:

  • How soon do I follow up?
    Follow up within a day or two.
  • What do I say in a follow-up message?
    Thank the member or staff for the meeting, provide any further information about your issue, and encourage them to see you as a resource.

For more questions or to discuss your in-district meeting plans, contact Darcy Scott at dscott@nchh.org or 202.669.7340.

Resources

Five Things You Can Do:

  1. Meet Your Member of Congress Locally [url]
  2. Join the Find It, Fix It, Fund It Action Drive [url]
  3. Share Your Story [url]
  4. Encourage Others to Join the Coalition [url]
  5. Connect on Social Media [url]

Blog Posts:
NCHH and Coalition Campaign on Capitol Hill (May 6, 2016) [url] NCHH Takes to the Hill (March 25, 2015) [url]