Advocacy Tips: The Telephone Call
A phone call is a good way to let your legislator know how you or your organization feels about a particular issue. Congressional offices pay close attention to these calls as a measure of voters' sentiment. An outpouring of calls can sometimes change the vote of a legislator, but even a small number of calls can make a difference.
Each member of Congress has a professional staff in Washington, DC. Some are assigned to the legislator's personal staff; others, to a committee or subcommittee. Staff members schedule appointments, track legislation, and make recommendations concerning legislative issues. Because of the busy schedules legislators keep, it is important to develop and maintain a good working relationship with staff members responsible for health or related issues. When you call the Washington office, ask to speak with the staff person responsible for the legislation you are calling about. Don't be upset or take it personally if that staffer is not available. The average Legislative Assistant handles six or seven major subject areas and is under constant deadlines to help the member with speeches, hearings, etc. By asking for the "health Legislative Assistant," your comments that constituents are concerned about an issue will get to the right person.
When you call, ask if your Senator or Representative could send you a written response. This will help ensure that your call gets counted. The volume of calls often makes it hard to get through - you may get a busy signal, get a taped message, or be asked to leave a voice message on a machine. Remember congressional staffs are surprisingly small, so don't give up! Please keep trying, or try a district office number in the Member's State. They will pass on the messages and are often less harried.
Where to call: Most Senators and Representatives maintain one or more offices in the state or congressional district they represent. You can find the phone number for that office in the U.S. government section of your telephone directory or by calling information.
If you wish to call the Washington, D.C. office, you can reach your Senator or Representative through the Capitol switchboard. Simply dial (202) 224-3121 and ask for your Representative's or Senator's office.
Sign up for the Health Action Network
Return to Advocacy Tips Home