There are a variety of ways to express your views about budget priorities, ranging in ease from sending a tweet to visiting Washington for a face-to-face meeting with a legislator.
Remember, while you are free to contact any member of Congress, you will be most effective by contacting legislators who represent you directly.
Calling your senator or representative is much less scary than it sounds and usually takes less than a minute of your time. You can find phone numbers on their websites, or call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask to be transferred. One way to save time and help you make calling Congress a habit is to save the phone numbers for your legislators’ offices in your cell phone.
When you call, ask to speak to the congressional aide who handles the issue about which you're calling. Congressional aides are support staff for members of Congress. After identifying yourself on the phone, you can say something as simple as “Please tell Senator/Representative (name) that I support/oppose (bill or issue).” While you can state your reason for support or opposition, do not feel like you have to know the material inside out. The aide will simply keep a count of constituent calls and their general positions.
Personal messages from constituents can be a very effective way of communicating with your legislators. Always be sure to include your name and address to make it clear that you live in the relevant district or state. All letters should start with Dear Senator/Representative, and they can be just a few paragraphs about a single issue.
While you can always use information you have found through various sources, you should write your letter in your own words. Include specific information about the bill or program about which you're writing. Details about personal or local impact are very effective. Always be courteous, and be very clear about what action you'd like your legislator to take.
Find your legislator’s mailing address on his or her website, and address the letter as follows:
The Honorable (Full Name)
[Room #] [Building Name] Senate Office Building
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510
The Honorable (Full Name)
[Room #] [Building Name] House Office Building
United States House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515
When writing to the Chair of a Committee or the Speaker of the House, it is appropriate to begin letters with “Dear Mr./Madam Chairman/woman” or “Dear Mr./Madam Speaker.”
For the President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20500
Comment Line: 202-456-1111
Due to security concerns, mail delivery to Capitol Hill or the White House can be slow. If you are writing a letter about a pressing issue or upcoming vote, be sure to leave extra time for delivery or send it to their local office. You can also send a letter by email through your legislator’s website.
The newest and easiest method of contacting your representatives is through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. While phone calls and letters may still carry more weight in the eyes of lawmakers and congressional aides, speaking to your legislators through social media has the advantage of occurring in the public eye. When you comment on your legislator’s Facebook page or send a tweet, other constituents can read your message. This may spark a dialogue. It could also help increase awareness about the issue you’re raising and build support for your cause.
To find politicians on Facebook, you can either look for a link on their official website or simply look them up through the search bar in Facebook. TweetCongress maintains a Twitter directory of members of Congress. You can also use the Twitter search bar to find them, though keep an eye out for the many imposter Twitter accounts where people pretend to be elected officials.
Through social media sites you can ask questions, respond to legislators’ posts or Tweets, encourage them to take action, thank them when they do something you support, and much more. Always be respectful and never use offensive language.