How to Write a Letter to Your Congressman
Writing to Congressmen Effectively
For most citizens, the work of Congress is something people only engage with when watching the news. From controversial legislation to community-oriented work, your representative benefits from hearing from constituents in their districts.
Learning how to write to your congressman (or congresswoman) effectively can mean having your voice heard on issues your care about, or your letter being lost in a sea of comments.
How to Write Your Congressman
1. Locate Your Congressman's Email or Postal Address
While the most convenient method to write your congressman is via email, you can still write your representative using the U.S. Postal Service.
Since the 2001 Anthrax attacks against a number of members of Congress, snail mail to congressmen is often delayed when sent to their Washington D.C. offices. If you prefer to send a letter to your congressman via postal mail, it is recommended you address the letter to their district offices, which are able to handle mail typically faster than their counterparts in Washington D.C. because of security.
Regardless of the method, your letter will be handled by the Congressman's staff appropriately and professionally, but sending an email to your congressman is faster.
2. Composing Your Letter to Your Congressman
Before you begin writing your letter, consider what you are writing to your congressman about. Is it to register an opinion about pending legislation? Are you informing your congressman of a problem? Are you requesting a flag flown over the Capitol, a birthday greeting, or other constituent service?
The general rule of thumb for writing your congressman is that brevity is key. Keep your message to one page, if possible, and try to make the request in as few words as possible.
If you are writing in regards to legislation, name the bill or amendment by name and author (if possible), as the congressman's staff deal with hundreds of pieces of legislation each and every day.
Always remember to include your return email or postal address, if you would like a reply.
A nice gesture is to also thank your representative for their service, and the opportunity to write to their office. The extra touch may just mean the difference between receiving a reply or encouraging a fast response to your issue, and being placed on the back burner.
Your Congressman's Title. Out of respect for your congressman's position, always begin the letter with "Dear Congressman/Congresswoman/Representative." You may include their last name. Address the envelope as "The Honorable Representative [Name]" and their address.
3. What to Expect from Your Letter
While not every letter may receive a response, including this information makes a reply more likely. Letters registering an opinion often will result in a form letter sent to constituents, especially if your letter is about a hot topic or pendingcontroversial legislation.
Constituent services requests typically merit a more personalized response.
Regardless of what you write, know that your opinion or concerns are being registered with a member of the Congressman's staff, and will address your needs as is appropriate.
Writing to your Congressman is a worthwhile opportunity to participate in the legislative process without being elected yourself, and is appreciated by your elected officials. Happy writing!
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