When the Rep’s in the crib ma
Drop in like it’s hot
Drop in like it’s hot
Drop in like it’s hot
Love is in the air this month, and your representatives are home for recess through February 27th. Our Members of Congress can play hard to get sometimes though, so instead of scheduling a meeting, we’re asking you to just stop by! Trump has already increased global tensions in the FIRST MONTH of this year and we need our reps to commit to bills like No First Use that roll us back from the brink of nuclear war.
A drop in visit is easy, happens on your time, and takes less than half an hour! Keep reading to get all of the important information on planning your own.
The first thing to know is that you can always simply drop into your representative’s office to talk with them — and it’s what we suggest doing this month! This is an easy way to build a relationship with the office and make your voice heard at a time that’s convenient for you. Plus, we know Congress is in recess at the end of February 2020. It’s always a good idea to call ahead and check their hours to be sure they’re open when you want to visit.
- Pick a date and time to stop by the office. Plan to drop in only during business hours.
- Call the in-district office closest to you and inform the office that you plan to stop by the office on your selected date and time to discuss sane nuclear policies like No First Use.
- The office will either:
- Agree and offer to put the meeting on its official calendar;
- Ask you to cancel your event, which you shouldn’t do; or
- Invite you to drop in at a different time, which you should accept only if the timing works for your schedule. Otherwise, you should refuse and move forward with your plan to visit on your original date/time.
- Make a sign, bring a box of cupcakes, or think up something clever to leave an impression on the office!
Go to the lawmaker’s office
- Make sure you arrive on time if they added you to the schedule!
- When you arrive at the office, ask to speak with any available staff members. Remember to be professional, respectful and courteous during your visit.
- Ask your representative or their staff specifically to support No First Use and resist war with Iran. Be sure you’re clear on what you want them to do ahead of time and bring the No First Use fact sheet with you!
- Take lots of photos, including one with the lawmaker or staffer. Horizontal photos are easier to use for social media!
- After the meeting, ask everyone to share notes, photos and reflections with each other over email. Then send that info to [email protected]
- Follow up with the office within the week, sending a thank you note, any information they asked for, and reminding them of any commitments they made.
The office has denied my request for a meeting in the past, but I still want to speak with my policymakers. Can I just show up?
Absolutely. Policymakers are public officials — it’s their job to represent you. See if your district office has open office hours designated for constituent services, or you can give the scheduler a heads-up after your meeting request is denied and relay the date and time you plan to visit the office.
How long do these kinds of meetings typically last?
Meetings with a legislator can be as short as 10–15 minutes, though meetings with legislative staffers may last longer.
I’ve never met with a Member of Congress before. What is the process like?
Every meeting is different, but here are some guidelines to follow:
- Enter the office, introduce yourselves and shake hands with any staff members you meet.
- Begin the conversation by reminding your Member of Congress why you’re there.
- If you’ve come as a group, every member of your group should take a couple of minutes to introduce themselves and explain why the issue is personally important to them.
- If you’re going with other people, assign someone to take notes during the meeting, and assign someone else to make the ask.
- At the meeting’s conclusion, thank your Member of Congress or their staff and promise to follow up.
- Ask for a photo with staff members and participants to document the meeting.
What if the lawmaker or staffer tries to redirect the conversation? How can I ensure I have the opportunity to convey my talking points?
It’s entirely possible that your Member of Congress will be interested in discussing something other than what you want to talk about. If this is the case, bring the conversation back to your ask.
You’re there for a reason — remind your representative of this. Nuclear weapons present an existential threat to every person and the planet.
What if my Member of Congress asks me a question I can’t answer?
That’s ok! You don’t need to be an expert to go to this meeting. Be honest and offer to find the answer and report back. This is a great opportunity to get back in touch with the office.
How soon after the visit should I thank the office?
Immediately send a thank-you note to the office (via email, snail mail and/or on social media using the lawmaker’s handle). In the ensuing weeks, follow your representative’s actions on the issue you spoke about.
If my Member of Congress needs to consider my request before committing to any action, how long should I wait for a decision?
Wait a week before following up with a staff member. The staffer should be able to keep you in the loop and update you on any decisions or actions.
I met with a staff member and want to ensure my message is passed along to my Member of Congress. How can I be sure that the information gets to my legislator? Is there any way to follow up about this?
Definitely! It’s the staffer’s job to keep their boss informed about what constituents are thinking.
Follow up with the staff member you met with if you haven’t heard back within a week, but don’t call or email every single day. This issue is of critical importance, but staffers are dealing with a lot of significant issues. Sending follow-up requests every week until you hear back is perfectly appropriate.