Dear Addy: In-District Legislative Meetings

person holding folder in front of Capitol

Dear Addy,

With Congress in recess, how can I continue to participate in legislative advocacy?

Signed,

Bleeding Disorders Advocate


Dear Bleeding Disorders Advocate,

Every August, the United States Congress embarks on a recess, temporarily adjourning its legislative business and allowing members to return to their home states and districts. The August recess tradition serves as an essential aspect of Congress’s schedule, allowing members to connect with their constituents, engage in local events, and understand the issues that matter most to the people they represent before returning for a busy fall session in Congress.

The August recess is a particularly good time to connect with your legislator and share your story by scheduling an in-district meeting or attending a town hall event.

In-district meetings with your legislator during the August recess offer a great opportunity for you to directly engage with your elected representatives on issues important to you. These meetings are valuable to lawmakers, too, allowing them to gain deeper insights into the challenges and aspirations of the people they represent. This, in theory, helps them make more informed decisions when they return to Capitol Hill for the next legislative session. Oftentimes, legislators will host town hall events during the August recess that can provide a great opportunity for community members to connect with their legislators and staff without scheduling a 1-on-1 meeting. Unlike the formal settings in Washington, D.C., these meetings often take place in familiar community spaces, making the environment more relatable, comfortable, and conducive to open dialogue.

How do I go about scheduling a district meeting with my legislator?

Scheduling an in-district meeting with your legislator requires some preparation and persistence, but it is entirely possible with the following steps:

1. Identify your legislator: First, determine who your representative is! This information is easily accessible on Congress.gov by typing in your street address and zip code.

2. Gather contact information: Once you know who your legislator is, find the contact details for their district office. This information is usually available on their official website. Alternatively, you can call the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 to be connected to your legislator’s district office.

3. Make a phone call: Call your legislator’s district office and ask to schedule a meeting. Be prepared to provide your name, contact information, and the reason for the meeting. A staff member will help guide you through the process.

4. Be specific about the purpose: Clearly state the issues you want to discuss during the meeting. Whether it’s a particular policy concern, a personal experience, or an advocacy matter, outlining the purpose of the meeting will help your legislator and their staff better prepare.

5. Be flexible with your availability: Legislators have busy schedules, so be flexible when proposing meeting times. Offer multiple options and inquire about their preferred days or times for meetings.

6. Follow up: If you don’t receive a response within a reasonable time, follow up with another phone call or email to reiterate your request politely. Persistence can be essential in securing a meeting.

7. Prepare for the meeting: Once the meeting is confirmed, prepare for it by researching the legislator’s stance on relevant issues, gathering data or personal anecdotes to support your points, and formulating clear talking points. (You may want to check out HFA’s Legislative Action Center for talking points on legislative priorities of interest to the bleeding disorders community.)

8. Attend the meeting: Show up on time for the meeting, be respectful and courteous, and use the time effectively to discuss your concerns and make your case.

Remember that legislators have numerous commitments, and securing a meeting may take some time. However, engaging with them in-person during the August recess can be a powerful way to speak up for your interests and advocate on behalf of the bleeding disorders community!

Sincerely,

Addy

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