Writing Your Congressional Representatives
Your correspondence with your representative and senators is important! Do not underestimate the importance of writing them. Indeed, such correspondence is a responsibility--even an obligation--you should assume when you elect a public official. After all, how can your elected members of Congress effectively represent you if you fail to inform them of your views? Many representatives and senators recognize that the letters, telegrams, and E-mails they receive from voters back home are among their best sources for learning and understanding the views of their constituents.
Writing effective letters to your elected representative is not difficult. A well-worded and factually persuasive letter can cause an elected official to review or reevaluate his/her position on an issue. Such correspondence has even been known to cause a change in position or vote. On the other hand, communicating your support on an issue can reinforce and strengthen a representative's position and it gives him/her visible evidence of constituent support.
Reasons for Writing
State your reason for writing; be specific. If supporting legislation, say so and why; if against it, say so and why. Support your position with facts.
Express yourself clearly. Your legislators should not have to figure out what you are trying to say.
Be brief and to the point. Limit it to a single page if you can. Emphasize the main points of the issue. Offer to provide further information if desired.
Discuss one subject in a letter. This will highlight the issue's importance and avoid confusing letters.
Identify subject clearly. Provide a brief description of the issue. Give name of legislation and bill number if known.
Let it be known if you are a constituent by your address. If you are away from your home, it is especially important to let him/her know.
Be constructive, Help seek a solution to what may be a difficult issue. If you feel certain legislation is the wrong approach, explain a better approach.
Avoid becoming a "pen pal". Quality not quantity is important. Don't write on every issue merely for the sake of writing.
After stating your position, ask for his/her position on the legislation or issue.
Don't send carbon copies to your other elected representatives; each one deserves a personal letter.
If the response that you receive seems non-committal or evasive, politely write back for clarification.
Timing of Your Correspondence
If writing about a specific bill, write while the bill is in committee; thus, there is still time for effective action.
When public hearings are anticipated and it seems appropriate, request that your elected representative testify in support of your position as a constituent.
Monday and Friday usually have the heaviest mail, so try to time
receipt of your letter between Tuesday and Thursday.
Search The Washington Office Website
Copyright © 2002; Veterans of Foreign Wars of United States, Washington Office; 200 Maryland Ave NE; Washington, DC 20002. Telephone (202)543-2239. Email email@example.com All Rights Reserved.