Meeting with Your Member of Congress

You have the most leverage when you’re talking to them about an issue that’s currently moving across their desks—and our Capitol Calendar ensures that you always have the latest information at your fingertips. Congressional staff regularly take meetings with folks who want to talk about stuff that’s happening in a month or next year. But a typical staffer isn’t thinking far beyond today.


Choose a Spokesperson

After your group selects an MoC to meet with, you should designate a person from your group to do most of the talking. It’s perfectly fine to have multiple people speak. But to make sure that the meeting goes smoothly for your group, it’s helpful to have a lead speaker and then others who have a specific talking point or issue that they will raise during the course of the meeting.

Ask to Meet With the Member

It’s unlikely that your MoC will be in their district office, but you should always ask for a meeting with them. If they’re unavailable, then you should only accept a meeting with the District Director (the highest level staff member in the office). They may try to get rid of you but don’t take no for an answer—and don’t let them pawn you off on an intern. If you show up in a large group, they will be much more likely to see you.

During the Meeting

Prepare talking points so that your group has a plan of attack to control the meeting. You can see more information about conversations with MoC staff members here. Some ideas for writing effective talking points include:

Establish Your Legitimacy.

Introduce yourselves and identify as constituents. Talk about where in the district you live, some offices may ask for specific zip codes.

Tell Them Why You’re There.

You could say, for example, that you are standing Indivisible against the repeal of the ACA.

Focus on One Issue at A Time.

Right now, the repeal of the ACA is one of the biggest issues before Congress. Tell them why you’re concerned about its repeal (e.g. 32 million will lose insurance and premiums will double), then ask what your MoC is doing to stop this from happening.

Tell Them Your Personal Stories.

Be honest. Be vulnerable. Your story matters, and you deserve the chance to share it. If repealing or weakening the ACA would affect you, your family, or your friends, tell them how and why (e.g. my parents are small business owners who, until 2014, had gone more than a decade without health insurance. They have pre-existing conditions and I’m worried about how much time I’ll have left with them if ACA is repealed and they lose access to health insurance again).

Don’t Settle for Non-Answers.

If congressional staff are dodging your question—saying they have to check back and then respond to you—be polite but firm while demanding an answer.

Close the Meeting by Letting Them Know that You’ll Be Back.

Your MoC works for you. Let them or their District Director know that you’ll be back as often as it takes to make sure that your voice is heard. Get the contact information of everyone you meet with and send a follow-up email when you get home.

Record It or It Didn’t Happen.

Get a picture of your group at the office or, better yet, get a video of your group before, during, and after your visit. Read the full guide for details on how and why to document everything. Then, send it to us at stories.indivisible@gmail.com so we can help amplify your efforts. Include a description of the video, the name of your group, and the names of the people in the video/picture.

Note: Please familiarize yourself with your state and local laws that govern recording, along with any applicable Senate or House rules, prior to recording. These laws and rules vary substantially from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

 

After the Meeting

Thank Everyone Who Showed Up.

Reiterate that conversations with MoCs and staff are the best way to ensure your elected officials speak up for their constituents.

Sign Them up For Your Next Event.

Have a sign-up sheet for everyone to sign that says something like: Can we count on you to attend our next meeting in the Student Union lobby at 4:00pm on Thursday (Y/N)? If many people don’t sign up to attend, ask your group why and then try to solve the problem. Your group will only have an impact through organized action.

Grow Your Chapter.

Ask each member to commit to bringing a new friend with them next time. Share the recordings, pictures, and notes from your event on social media with friends, your MoC, and local reporters.

Invite Your Member of Congress

Once you’ve held a successful event—and demonstrated the power and vitality of your Indivisible campus chapter—you should reach out to your MoCs and invite them to speak at your meetings/events. This is a great way to build a relationship with your member and their staff and ensure that your opinions are heard. If your events garner local press, be sure to note that in the invitation you send to your MoC!