EPPN: Meet with members of Congress in your district this week

Posted Feb 20, 2017

[Episcopal Public Policy Network policy alert] Face-to-face interactions with your members of Congress are more effective than any other form of advocacy. This week, this engagement is even easier, as Congress is on recess and most members are traveling back to their districts.

In-person meetings demonstrate the personal interest you have in the issues that you want to address, and allow you to offer stories and examples about why an issue is important to your community. These interactions are important for building ongoing relationships with your members of Congress and their staffs.

1. Select an issue: Make sure to select one issue that you wish to discuss. Making a specific ask is crucial to ensure you have a focused interaction with your elected officials; you can request additional meetings to discuss other topics in the future. We encourage you to identify yourself as Episcopalian during your meeting.

Advocate on an issue you care about, as that passion will make your presentation more effective. Be strategic about what issue you raise, keeping in mind current policy developments in Washington, DC. We recommend that you consider raising one of the following issues that members of Congress will have the opportunity to vote on in the coming months:

Health care: Tell your members of Congress not to repeal the ACA without a replacement that protects those most in need of health care. See our previous action alert on the ACA for guidance.

Refugee resettlement: Speak out in support of our nation’s tradition of refugee resettlement and to continue to provide funding for refugee resettlement. You can use guidance from this Congressional Advocacy Toolkit.

Foreign assistance: Let your members of Congress know that you support our government continuing to provide critical humanitarian and development assistance for those most in need around the world. Foreign assistance funding takes up less than 1% of the federal budget, but it saves millions of lives. Learn more here.

Criminal Justice Reform: Ask your member of Congress to pass bipartisan sentencing reform legislation, similar to the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of the 114th Congress. See our criminal justice reform advocacy guide to learn more.

2. Prepare, prepare, prepare: Educate yourself on your issue of choice and know your member of Congress’s position and voting history on that issue. Prepare a few key talking points, and collect articles or resources to leave with your representative. (More tips on arranging and preparing for your meeting.)

3. Set up and attend the meeting: You can set up your own meeting using the tips in this guide. In addition, members often set up town hall discussions while in their district. You can find scheduled town hall meetings here. We encourage you to attend the meeting with a team. Find people that are similarly interested and have a story to tell about this particular issue.

4. Follow up: Any interaction with your member of Congress, local elected officials, or members of their staffs is an opportunity to build a relationship. Be sure to thank the person you met with for his or her time, and stay in touch with this person to offer updates on the issue.

5. Tell us how it went: If you attend a town hall or arrange another meeting with your members of Congress or their staff, please let us know how the meeting went by writing us at eppn@episcopalchurch.org.