To locate contact information for your U.S. Representative(s): www.senate.gov
To locate contact information for your U.S Senators:www.house.gov.
Tell Us About Your Communication with Your Members of Congress
We want to know about your time with your Member of Congress. Your interactions help us strategize our advocacy efforts.
Click here to read more on telling us about your visit with your Member of Congress.
National Senior Corps Association Tips for Hill Visits
- Senate: Two Senators are elected from every state in order to achieve equal representation among the states in the Senate. Each Senator is elected for a six-year term and no term limits are placed on a Senator's seat. The Senate is responsible for approving treaties, confirming presidential nominations, and conducting trials.
- House of Representatives: There are four hundred and thirty five representatives in the House. The numbers vary greatly from state to state since representation corresponds to population. Each representative represents what is known as a congressional district. The amount of representatives a state has is based on the amount of congressional districts within that state. Bigger states have more representatives and smaller ones have less. Each representative serves for a two-year term.
Be aware of the difference between “Authorization or Reauthorization” and “Appropriations”
- Reauthorization is the process by which Congress prescribes changes, additions, and deletions to an Act. Through this process, legislation is developed that adjusts the current programs to meet the changing needs.
- Annual appropriations are not required by the Constitution but it has been the custom since the First Congress to make appropriations for a single fiscal year. An appropriations law is one that provides federal agencies legal authority to incur obligations and the Treasury Department authority to make payments for designated purposes. (There are other types of laws that provide this same type authority for entitlements such as Social Security). Appropriations are usually used or obligated in the fiscal year for which they are provided, unless a law specifies that they be available for a longer period of time. An appropriation makes funds available for obligation but does not usually require that outlays occur in any particular year.
Steps to education and advocacy
Make your appointment: 1)Make your appointment as far in advance as possible. A month in advance is not too early. 2) Call the Washington Office of your U.S. Senators and U.S. Representatives. Call as far in advance of Hill visit as possible. Contact information for your Members of Congress can be found at: www.senate.gov or www.house.gov 3) Introduce yourself to the staffer who answers the phone including the name of your project and where you live and/or where your project is located (state, county, parish or district) so they know you are a constituent. You may not live in the congressional district where your Senior Corps project is located. This gives you the opportunity to meet with two representatives. 4) Also introduce yourself as someone programs in their district. You will be in Washington for the _______________________ and would like the opportunity to talk with the Congressperson/Senator about your programs. 5) In most cases, you will not meet with the Member of Congress. Below is the order of hierarchy for office staffers. Try to get a meeting with those who are highest on the list (provided by our Washington representative Priscilla Chatman, JD) or with the Legislative Assistant, the professional staff person who will know the most about national service:
Chief of Staff or the Administrative Assistant (AA). The AA is confusing to persons outside of politics because an administrative assistant is usually a clerical person, but with elected officials this is the title for the number one or two person. Some offices have both a chief of staff and an AA with one being housed in DC and the other in the local district office. Regardless, they are first and second in authority. If you meet with someone in the elected official’s local office you can ask to meet with the AA or the chief of staff. In DC a constituent usually will NOT meet with the AA or the Chief of staff. In rare cases if the member of Congress is from a sparsely populated state, a state geographically distant from DC or a very poor state where people rarely travel from the state to DC, then the constituents may get to meet with the AA or chief of staff. The next highest level person dealing with policy issues is:
Legislative Director. The LD is the staff member who supervises all the legislative assistants. The LD manages all the legislation and legislative issues from Iraq to education to national service. Below the LD is:
Legislative Assistant. An LA manages several issues and is a professional staff member with authority and power. The LA is the person directly responsible for an issue from Medicare, Iraq education to national volunteer service. This is the person you should and will probably meet with. Try not to meet with the staff person below this level.
Below the LA is a:
Legislative Correspondence, LC. This is an entry level but professional position and will usually lead to this person becoming a LA once he or she has more experience. An LC usually reports to the LA. The LC does not meet with the Senator or the chief of staff or the AA. The LC probably does not meet with the LD either. Therefore, when meeting in Washington, you want to meet with an LA, the person with the most knowledge about an issue, or someone higher for political reasons. Although an LD, AA or Chief of staff certainly has more power than an LA, they have less knowledge on your specific issue. These higher ups listen to the LA for the facts and for a recommendation.
Even if you have an appointment, legislators and their staff persons are often called away unexpectedly for many reasons. Be sure you leave your cell phone with the scheduler so they can contact you with last minute cancellations or change of meeting time.
If you have an appointment with a Member of Congress (or their representative) on a key committee (Appropriations, Reauthorization), inform our Washington Representative of the day/time of the appointment. There may be special concerns to address or the Washington representative may want to accompany you to the meeting.
What to bring:Read up on the elected official(s) you are going to visit. Review their website, find out what committees they serve on, etc. Go to the visit prepared to share statistics: the number of programs and number of volunteers in your programs, number of programs and number of volunteers throughout their district. For Senators, know statistics on the number of volunteers and programs in the entire state. Something from home: small recognition items or other items from your program or others in the legislator’s district, copies of newspaper articles, a few letters from local volunteer stations and/or volunteers thanking them for supporting the program, etc. Your business cards to identify yourself as a constituent.
What to wear: Formal business attire (suit, tie, dress, business slacks).