Capitol Hill Basics
Captiol Hill Basics and Tips
Understanding the basics of the legislative process is paramount to communicate with your legislators. Before writing, e-mailing or telephoning your elected representative, it’s important to understand the process.
To that end, ASA provides this section as a reference for anyone who wishes to communicate with their representative. The links below provide information on communicating with elected representatives, roles of common staff members, and a brief explanation of the legislative process.
Tips On Telephoning Your Elected Representatives
To find your senators’ and representative’s phone numbers, you may use our searchable online congressional directory or call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask for your senators’ and/or representative’s office.
Remember that telephone calls are usually taken by a staff member, not the member of Congress. Ask to speak with the aide who handles the issue about which you wish to comment.
After identifying yourself, tell the aide you would like to leave a brief message, such as: “Please tell Senator/Representative (Name) that I support/oppose (S.___/H.R.___).”
You will also want to state reasons for your support or opposition to the bill. Ask for your senators’ or representative’s position on the bill. You may also request a written response to your telephone call.
Tips On Writing Congress
The letter is the most popular choice of communication with a congressional office. If you decide to write a letter, this list of helpful suggestions will improve the effectiveness of the letter:
Your purpose for writing should be stated in the first paragraph of the letter. If your letter pertains to a specific piece of legislation, identify it accordingly, e.g., House bill: H. R. ____, Senate bill: S.____.
Be courteous, to the point, and include key information, using examples to support your position.
Address only one issue in each letter; and, if possible, keep the letter to one page.
To a Senator:
The Honorable (full name)
__(Rm.#)__(name of)Senate Office Building
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
To a Representative:
The Honorable (full name)
__(Rm.#)__(name of)House Office Building
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Note: When writing to the Chair of a Committee or the Speaker of the House, it is proper to address them as:
Dear Mr. Chairman or Madam Chairwoman:
Dear Madam Speaker or Mr. Speaker:
Tips On E-mailing Congress
Generally, the same guidelines apply as with writing letters to Congress. You may find and e-mail your senators and representative directly from this Web site.