American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Advocacy - AFAP LogoHow to Respond to Different Congressional Meeting Scenarios

Prepare for your upcoming meeting with your congressional leader or staff member by reviewing the following scenarios.

 

Type Legislator/Staff Reaction Your Response Other Hill Visit Etiquette
Type A

The legislator/staff listens carefully and asks few or no questions. This is a noncommittal meeting.

"I will think about what you have said."

This very common type of Hill meeting allows you to tell your story and express your opinions.

For some meetings this is all that you will accomplish, but try to get specific feedback and commitments.

  • Ask questions to find out what could influence a decision.
  • Does your legislator know how this issue or legislation impacts the community in their district?
Type B

Unless your legislator works on a relevant committee—don't expect staff to know much about the issue.

"I'm new," and
"I don't know anything about speech-language pathologists and audiologists."

Before delving into specifics, you might need to take a step back from your original plan to ensure the staffer has a complete understanding of the issue context. Discuss what the issue is, why it's important, and who it will impact.

Hill staffers use the information you provide to construct memos about your discussion for the policymaker. They'll greatly appreciate the perspective you provide.

  • Describe the role of speech-language pathologists and audiologists in the broader health care and education settings.
  • Encourage questions—don't assume the staffer knows even basic information about the professions.
  • Try to find a personal tie between the individual you're meeting with and yourself.
  • Personalize your meeting with real life examples and make them remember you.
Type C

After introducing the legislative issue, the legislator or staffer agrees with you.

"I agree."

Use this as the gateway to secure policymaker commitment to your position, and ask them to work with other members of Congress to secure support on issues.

  • Get verbal commitment from your legislator/staff if possible.
  • Thank them for their support.
  • Indicate the ASHA Capitol Hill office will follow-up, as they'll be excited to hear of their official support for the legislation.
Type D

After introducing the legislative issue, the legislator or staffer disagrees with you.

"That is not my position" or "I disagree."

This rarely happens as legislators and staff do not like to disagree with their constituents. Try to understand why the legislator may not support/oppose the legislative issue so you can use this information in the future to work towards your position.

  • Find out why there is disagreement.
  • Determine whether the problem is issue or politics.
  • Agree that no bill is perfect and find out which part of the bill is a problem.

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