Calling Congress

How to Have a Productive Call with Your Legislators’ Offices

Contacting your legislators’ offices in Washington DC by phone is a useful way to communicate your opinions, especially on issues where an action is pending, such as a vote.

Note that you will not speak with the legislator directly. As with letters, legislative staff track the number of calls they receive on various topics. Your phone calls into an office can bring an issue to the attention of your legislator and have a big impact.

Important Tips

Here are important tips to help you make a successful call:

Find your legislators. Find out who represents you at GovTrack.US and store it somewhere handy, such as your phone. (Note: You may need your 9 digit zip code to find your US Representative).

Call congressional offices directly or through the switchboard. If you do not have the direct number, ask the operator answering the Capitol Hill switchboard number at (202) 224-3121 to connect you to an individual lawmaker’s office.

Ask to speak to the aide who handles the issue you are calling about. Your call will be more influential if you speak to the correct aide. However, Congressional aides are very busy and this is not always possible. If you cannot speak directly with the aide, leave a message with the receptionist stating your views.

Let them know you are a constituent. Elected officials are most interested in your opinions if you are their constituent, so be sure to say the city and state you are from.

Know your facts. Be sure you have the basic information about your topic in front of you when you call. You should be able to specifically describe the topic about which you are calling and state your opinion on what your legislator should do.

Note your expertise. If you have professional experience on the issue on which you are calling, be sure to mention it. It will help to establish your credibility on the issue and may event prompt the aide to ask you for some guidance on the issue.

Be brief. Aides receive a high volume of phone calls every day, so keep your call short.

Be timely. Timeliness is especially important when you are phoning. If the vote on your issue is imminent, the aide is much more likely to pay attention to what you say.

Consider calling your local district office. Calling the office in your district or state, rather than the Washington office, can sometimes be very effective. If you are calling about a vote or other timely issues, always call the Washington office.

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