Call Your Representatives
Congress tracks every call they receive, and hearing constituents over the phone can be some of the most impactful conversations for Legislative Aides. Calls can truly make a Representative feel the pressure of the public. Here are tips for calling your Representatives:
Step 1 - Introduce Yourself and Ask for the Right Person to Speak With
Sometimes interns handle the phones, so when you call, say your name, let them know you are a constituent, and ask for the Legislative Assistant (LA) who handles the topic you are calling about. If the LA is unavailable, don’t give up! This staffer is more than equipped to take down your perspective and report it to your Representative. If the LA is available, re-introduce yourself when he/she picks up the phone.
Step 2 - Make "The Ask"
Know exactly what you are asking your Representative to do, and state it near the beginning of the call. It frames the discussion and gives you the opportunity to reiterate your Call to Action, or “The Ask”, at the end of your call.
For example: Should your Senator vote on specific legislation? Have that bill number available when you call and, after introducing yourself, say “I am asking Senator/Representive (XXX) to vote yes/no/support/co-sponsor…”. You can have asks that are more general. If there are many pieces of legislation on, for example, the refugee crisis, you might ask your Representative to support refugee resettlement.
Step 3 - Support Your Position with Facts
Share one or two short facts which support and explain why you are asking your Representative to take this specific action. Because you want to be as convincing as possible, try to connect their platform or past votes to this issue and your ask.
For example, if you are talking to a Democrat, you could mention the impacts of conflict on the environment or how the Iraq War created the security vacuum that allowed ISIL to flourish. If you are speaking to a Republican, you should try other talking points: mention how the Pentagon has never been audited, and how unchecked defense spending is takes 54% of all US tax dollars and contributes significantly to the nation’s deficit. In short, tailor these facts to the Representative you are speaking with.
Step 4 - Make a Personal Connection
Why are you calling about this issue? Your Representative wants to know why you care about this issue, and why it matters not just to you, but to the community you are a part of – and to the community he/she is tasked with representing. This is the perfect opportunity to re-iterate the ask. Here’s an example:
The refugee community in my hometown has benefitted our community in so many ways: increasing cross cultural dialogue, driving the local economy and fostering a more diverse, inclusive atmosphere in our schools. I’m proud to be from a place that celebrates diversity, which is why I am asking you, as my Representative, to support refugee resettlement.
Step 5 - Ask a Question and Say "Thank You"
To close the call, you should do two things:
1- Ask how the Representative feels about this issue, or if he/she has decided how they will vote. You can get invaluable insight into how your Representative feels, and that insight can inform not just your, but the PANYS relationship with this Representative. Make sure you report back to PANYS any insights you receive from these calls!
2 – Say “Thank You”. It is so important to thank the Staffer for their time on the call. He/she may disagree with you politically, but having these conversations in a civil manner is the foundation of the democratic process. So, regardless of how the Representative ultimately votes, saying “Thank You” to the Staffer you spoke with after these calls is important for your relationship with the office.
Report back to Peace Action any information on how your Representative may vote, and let us know you called. That’s how we measure impact!
Not sure who your Representatives are?
Click here to find out and to find their contact information.
To download a PDF version of these instructions – which you can print for meetings or events – click here: Download PDF.