Meeting With Your Members of Congress Locally

In an era when electronic communications can be overwhelming, face-to-face meetings with legislators add value to the advocacy process. Your legislators want to hear from you, their constituent, about the important issues facing the district, the state, and the country. This document aims to assist you in meeting with your legislators.

Before the Meeting: Things to Consider

  • What is the purpose and desired format of the meeting (i.e., state association meeting, facility visit, visit to the local congressional office)? What issues are you presenting?
  • Are other local associations working on this issue, and, if so, should you include them in the meeting to increase your collective voice?
  • How many speech-language pathologists and audiologists do you want to include in the meeting? How will you identify these individuals?

Find out When Your Lawmakers will be In Their Local Offices

Each year, Congress takes several "District Work Period" breaks [PDF], during which they work out of their local offices rather than on Capitol Hill. Members are also frequently at home in August, around holidays, and at the beginning and/or end of each week. Unfortunately, the House and Senate do not necessarily follow the same calendar.

Request a Meeting

Contact the legislator's local office, which can be found on his or her individual website at United States House of Representatives or United States Senate. Ask for the contact information of the person who schedules in-district meetings for the member of Congress. You will need to submit your meeting request in writing, even if you speak to someone in the legislator's office.

Review a sample appointment request letter. In the letter, explain the purpose of your visit, identify participants in the meeting, and suggest possible meeting dates. Be flexible! The more flexible you are about the date, the more likely it is that your meeting can be included on the legislator's schedule. If you don't hear back from a member of your legislator's staff, be persistent as well as polite. Sometimes requests get lost, so don't be afraid to follow-up by sending an e-mail or calling the office.

Let ASHA know when you have appointments scheduled by e-mailing [email protected]. ASHA staff can provide updates on current legislative issues or answer any questions.
Confirm your appointment with the legislator's office one to two weeks prior to the meeting. Legislators' schedules change quickly, so confirming the details of the meeting is always a good idea.

Be Prepared for Your Visit

The Day of the Meeting

When it is time to meet with your legislator, be punctual and patient. Lawmakers have very busy schedules; a late arrival may mean that you miss your appointment. However, you may also need to be flexible. It is not uncommon for a lawmaker to be late, or to have a meeting interrupted, due to the member's crowded schedule. Be flexible if your time is cut short; offer to accompany your lawmaker to his or her next appointment so you can talk further.

Present Your Issues and Then Ask For Something to be Done!

After Your Visit

How to Continue to be an Advocate for the Professions

If you developed a rapport with your lawmaker, consider building a relationship by:

  • Offering to host a site visit by your lawmaker to your office or department to better educate them about the audiology and speech-language pathology professions;
  • Attending the lawmaker's local fundraisers or events;
  • Continuing to contact your legislator through ASHA's Take Action site on key ASHA priorities;
  • Visiting your legislators in their Capitol Hill offices when you are in Washington, DC—either for an ASHA meeting or at any other time;
  • Supporting ASHA-PAC, ASHA's federal political action committee, which provides financial support to candidates for the U.S. House and Senate who recognize the importance of speech-language pathology and audiology services and who demonstrate concern for the rights of all citizens to receive these services.

If you have any concerns or questions, please contact ASHA's Federal Advocacy Team at 202-624-5951 or [email protected].

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