Keep in Touch

Tips for reaching out to your elected officials...

Emailing Congress

Addressing Your Correspondence

Phoning Congress

Meeting with Congressional Staff

Emailing Congress

Email is the preferred method of communication for Congressional offices. After the anthrax attacks in 2001, any paper mail sent to Congress is irradiated at an outside facility. This irradiation causes a delay of a month or more and can result in illegible letters.

Members of Congress will typically only respond to communications from their home state or district. Make sure to identify that you are a constituent.

State Your Purpose

  • State your purpose for writing in the first sentence of the email.
  • Use your own words and tell your own story. Don’t just cut and paste or forward scripts you may have been provided.
  • If you are writing to several legislators on the same subject, use separate emails.
  • If your email pertains to a specific piece of legislation, identify it in the subject line of the email and reference it in the first line of the email. Make sure you are referencing the correct legislation to the correct body of Congress. House bills are H.R. ____; Senate bills are S.____.
  • Address only one issue in each email.
  • Be courteous. Don’t make demands. Don’t make threats.
  • Express your appreciation. Say thank you for their attention to the issue. 

Addressing Your Correspondence

The correct format for addressing your letter is "The Honorable [first name][last name]" first, followed by the address:

California State Assembly
State Capitol
Sacramento, CA 95814

Dear Assembly member or Senator[last name]

To a Senator

The Honorable (Full Name)
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator (Last Name):

To a Representative

The Honorable (Full Name)
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Representative (Last Name):

To a Chair of a House Committee

The Honorable (Full Name)
(Name of Committee)
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman/woman (Last Name):

To a member of the leadership (Speaker of the House, Majority Leader, etc.)

The Honorable (Full Name)
(Leadership Position)
United States Senate/House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20510/20515

Dear (Leadership Position) (Last Name):

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Phoning Congress

Many offices will keep a tally of support/oppose phone calls on legislation. Even if your call is brief, it is an important way for members of Congress to gauge constituent response to bills.

Telephone calls are handled by a staff member. Ask to speak with the staff member who handles the issue about which you wish to comment.

After identifying yourself as a constituent, tell the aide that you would like to leave a brief message, such as: “Please tell Senator/Representative (Name) that I support/oppose (S.___/H.R. ____).

Succinctly state your reasons for your support or opposition to the bill. Ask for your senator’s or representative’s position on the legislation.

If the aide asks if you are part of a call-in campaign, be honest. It will not detract from your support/opposition to the legislation. It is simply a tool for staff to anticipate a large volume of phone calls and staff them appropriately.

Meeting with Congressional Staff

Meeting with a member of Congress or Congressional staffer is a very effective way to convey a message about a specific issue or legislative matter. If you plan to meet with a Congressional office, please contact the UC Davis Office of Government & Community Relations at 530-752-9795. Once Government & Community Relations has helped set up meetings for you, here are some suggestions to consider when planning the visit.

  • Plan your visit carefully. Be clear about what you hope to achieve from the meeting, determine in advance which member or Committee staff you will need to meet with to have a successful outcome.
  • Make an appointment. Government & Community Relations can help you schedule meetings in DC. We will need to know the purpose of the meeting and who you represent.
  • Be Prompt and Patient. When it is time to meet with a Member or staff, be punctual and be patient. It is not uncommon for a Congressman or staffer to be late, or to have a meeting interrupted due to the member’s schedule. If interruptions occur, be flexible. If you are running late for your meeting, call the office and let them know. Also, many House meetings will take place in office corridors or other unusual locations. It is the result of limited meeting space, not a sign of disrespect.
  • Be Prepared. Whenever possible, bring meeting materials that you can leave behind with staffers. It is especially helpful to have clear data or examples of how a particular piece of legislation would affect the member’s constituency. If possible, describe for the member or staff how you or your group can be of assistance to him/her. When it is appropriate, ask for a commitment from the staffer or member.
  • Keep it Simple. Members of Congress and staffers are very smart, but often will not have the depth of knowledge that you have on a particular topic. Keep your message simple and easy to understand. Avoid jargon and complex scientific terms. 
  • Be responsive. Be prepared to answer questions or provide additional information in the event that the member or staffer expresses interest or asks questions. Follow up the meeting with a thank you letter that outlines the different points covered in the meeting, and send along any additional information and materials requested.