Delivering Petitions and Letters to Members of Congress Locally
>This blog post is part of an 8-week series leading up to the 2012 Policy & Issues Forum, March 21-25. The series is designed to complement the guide “Signing On: A Prescription for Success” by providing practical information for health center advocates beginning or continuing a petition/letter drive, with the goal of delivering petitions/letters to Members of Congress.
In our last blog post, we talked about delivering petitions to Members of Congress in D.C. If you don’t have plans to travel to our nation’s capital any time soon, you can still deliver your health center’s petitions and letters locally.
The best way to communicate with your Members of Congress is to have them come to your health center so they can see first-hand the great work that you do! Have your community board members there to answer questions and invite staff to share about their day-to-day experiences. Plan time to not only tour the health center, but also to discuss why your health center has been collecting petitions and/or letters.
Of course, before you can have this visit, you need to schedule your Members of Congress to meet with you! Here are some tips for scheduling a meeting with a Member of Congress locally:
1. Put in a scheduling request. Most U.S. Senators, and some U.S. Representatives, have multiple District Offices. Call the office nearest your health center (offices are listed on Members’ websites) and ask to speak with the District Scheduler; you may be directed to contact the Scheduler at a different District Office. The Scheduler may request you to submit your request by email or fax, which you should plan to do regardless, and that leads us to step 2…
2. Keep your request broad. Submit your request both over the phone and in writing. You may want to invite your Member to attend a special event, such as a groundbreaking, that is planned for a specific date, but you should always include in your scheduling request, “…or any time he/she is available.” When Members are back in the District, they are busy visiting many constituents, so you don’t want to limit your request to just a narrow time slot on one day.
That said, if you do really want your Member to visit for a specific event, make sure you check to see if Members will even be back in the District for that day.
>>Click here to view the 2012 Congressional Schedule to see when your Member is in D.C. and when they are scheduled to be back home. This is a great resource to use for planning events well in advance when you know your Member isn’t scheduled to be in D.C.
3. Follow up. This goes right along with step 4…
4. Follow up again! Keep following up with the District Scheduler until they confirm your Member is scheduled for a visit. Be nice, be flexible, make sure the Scheduler keeps you on his/her radar.
5. Effective advocacy is coordinated advocacy. Once you have confirmed your meeting, please contact both your State Primary Care Association (PCA) and NACHC with your meeting details. PCAs and NACHC can only share helpful meeting history and information when we know about all planned meetings with elected officials. Your PCA and NACHC will also be able to provide you with appropriate state and federal talking points, which may vary for different Members of Congress. Please send any Congressional meeting details to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have you invited any of your Members of Congress to visit your health center recently? Have you made plans to deliver petitions and letters locally? Please post in the comments below!