How to Work with Congress
RMEF has substantial interest in issues that come before the U.S. Congress, federal and state agencies and state legislatures. Legislation and agency budgets can have a tremendous impact on our mission.
RMEF engages on bills and regulations affecting land and wildlife management, funding for conservation programs, hunter recruitment and education measures, and other issues.
While RMEF staffers engage members of Congress and agency officials, our effectiveness depends on the voices of our 220,000 members. Officials must be provided accurate information about the issues before them from the people their decisions impact. Together, we can have a positive impact on decision makers to benefit elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.
Get Your Point Across
Writing a letter remains the best way to contact most state and federal officials. Members of Congress, high-ranking federal officials and some state officials do not have time to read every email message or post card sent their way. They typically have staff review and respond to letters and emails and are provided only a few letters or messages for their personal response. While staffers keep count of messages and post cards regarding certain issues, only personalized written letters truly capture their attention and the officials they represent. If you don’t have time to send a letter, by all means make your point with an original email or phone message. These will be noticed and will make a difference.
Proper Address Heading
|The Honorable (full name)
||The Honorable (full name)
|(room #) (bldg. name) Senate Office Bldg.
||(room #) (bldg. name) House Office Bldg.
||US House of Representatives
|Washington, DC 20510
||Washington, DC 20515
How to Find Your Representatives & Their Contact Information
Senate & U.S. House of Representatives: https://www.govtrack.us/congress/members
Your state lawmakers:
log on the Internet to your state’s legislature or assembly home page
What to Say
- Clearly describe the issue with which you’re concerned. Keep your message to one issue and one page. Include the appropriate bill number (i.e. SB1234 or HB 4321) or rule title.
- Clearly state your position on the issue.
- If possible, tell why this issue is important to you personally.
- Ask for support/opposition to the issue you described.
- Thank them for their consideration of your request and include your signature.
Give Them a Call
If you only have time for a brief message, but want to be heard, make a phone call. Be sure to provide your full name, organization and hometown to the staff answering your call. Keep in mind these people are the conduit between you and your representative. Treat them with respect, whether or not you’re calling to agree or disagree with their boss.
Go See Them
One of the biggest responsibilities of legislators and public officials is being accountable to citizens and constituents. If you really want to make sure your voice is heard, try to catch a member of Congress or agency official in their office or at a town meeting. Visits with staff at district offices are also helpful. Visits should follow the same guidelines as written communication. Emphasize a purpose, position, perspective, conclusion and closing.
When meeting an official or their staff in person:
- Know your position and, if possible, know your lawmaker’s position. If it’s opposite your position, have clear, legitimate counterpoints prepared.
- Understand public officials have many demands on their time. Be prompt for your meeting but patient enough to wait for your opportunity should they be late in arriving from another commitment.
- Plan to spend no more than 10-15 minutes on your issue—and keep your discussion to that topic.
- Most public officials will have a position on your issue. Let them have their say and actively listen to their perspective. If they’re opposed to your position, you will usually learn why they’re opposed and sometimes how to change their mind.
- Make sure you conclude the meeting by asking them to consider your request to support or oppose the issue. If you’re asking for a signature on a letter or co-sponsorship of a bill, get a commitment from staff to follow up with that request.
- Always reply promptly and accurately if you agreed to provide any additional information to the official or staff. Always send a thank you note to the official and staff for taking time to meet with you.