Legislative and Government Relations: What is the Process for Lobbying Congress for Support?
- Personal contact (home state constituents) with Congressional Representatives (www.house.gov) and Senators (www.senate.gov) is essential.
- It is important to know who serves on what committees and also personal interests of the Members, i.e., gardening, bird watching.
- It is best to have a clear message for which you have gathered a "suite of partners" who have signed letters of support, documenting a broad base of support.
- It is important to seek support in both the Senate and the House of Representatives.
- It is best if you can tie the message to an issue of interest to the Member (i.e. jobs in his district, a bill he/she is sponsoring).
- The August recess is a great opportunity to connect with the Member in your own state. You may have more time to get the message across.
- The ideal approach is a "dream team." The dream team is 1-3 people that have deep technical knowledge of the subject, political savvy, and a local resident familiar with the subject.
- It's best to have a "story" how the project will tie into regional issues.
- A good way to identify the interests of any Member is to look at what bills they have sponsored. Also check out the press releases from your Member's Web-site.
- E-government and distance education initiatives may lend themselves to information-rich programs like AgNIC (www.agnic.org) or library issues.
- Sensitivity to state politics is a bonus.
- Non-governmental organizations can help to identify issues, voting records, and are places to possibly generate additional support. League of Women Voters is one such organization that often tracks voting records and they create topical "White Papers." You need to be careful here and get a good understanding of how the ratings are compiled as some of these organizations may limit the range of votes they look at.
- Staffers are all important. It's good to build personal relationships.
- http://www.senate.gov and http://www.house.gov are good Web-sites to check out.
- There are some good directories for the House and Senate that outline Committee assignments, contact information for the Members, and also provide sample letters.