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Writing a letter to congress sample

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Writing a letter to congress sample
April 26, 2019 1st Anniversary Wishes 3 comments

Tips for Writing a Letter to Your Member of Congress. Much of a lawmaker's time is spent in Washington D.C.; therefore, written communication is a critical piece.


Dear Representative/Senator :


As a constituent and a graduate, I urge you to support .
This issue is important because .
The federal government role in will ensure
that America as a nation continues to prosper. Continued investment in
, ensures that we can continue to
make strides in this sector and to lead the way in innovation. If not for
, we will surely lose our competitve
advantage. Here are some specific facts to help illustrate my point.

  • Fact 1
  • Fact 2
  • Fact 3
  • Fact 4

Your support for is critical because I have
benefited from the program. (Your Story)

More to the point, the people I serve have benefited from it. There are several 
constituents in (state/district) that are benefiting from (program). Please
ensure that you support and remain committed to benefiting
all of American society. Thank you for your consideration and please feel free
to contact me if you would like to discuss this issue further.


Sincerely,


Your Name
Your Title (if applicable)


Optional:
Your Address
Your City, State Zip
Your Phone Number

[Date]. The Honorable. House (or Senate) Office Building Washington, DC (). Dear Congressman/Senator.: As a constituent who votes, I am writing.

Toolkit: Calling or Writing Your Member of Congress

writing a letter to congress sample

Letters to Congress

Rural Health Comments (PDF) (Sept. 5, 2019)

Obesity Care Advocacy Network Sign-On Letter Supporting the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act of 2019 (PDF) (June 6, 2019)

Letter to Senate Leadership on Opioid Legislation (PDF) (August 21, 2018)

H.R. 6, The SUPPORT Act (PDF) (June 15, 2018)

Opioid Package Sign-On Letter (PDF) (June 6, 2018)

AOA Sign-On Letter to Senate HELP Committee on the Substance Use Disorder Workforce Loan Repayment Act of 2018 (PDF) (April 18, 2018)

AAPA Letter to Senate Bipartisan Working Group on Healthcare Price Transparency Initiative (PDF) (March 23, 2018)

AAPA Letter to Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs on Caring for Our Veterans Act of 2017 (PDF) (November 30, 2017)

Letter of Support to Sen. Burr on Amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (PDF) (August 31, 2017)

Letter of Support to Sens. Cornyn and Warren on S. 1393, the Jobs for Our Heroes Act (PDF) (July 19, 2017)

Letter of Support to Reps. Brownley and Woodall on H.R. 2547, the Veterans Expanded Trucking Opportunities Act (PDF) (July 19, 2017)

Letter of Support to Reps. Bergman and Kuster on H.R. 3262, the Grow Our Own Initiative (GOOD) Act (PDF) (July 19, 2017)

HPNEC Sign-On Letter to Appropriations Committee Leaders on Title VII and Title VIII (PDF) (July 12, 2017)

AAPA Letter to Senate Leadership on AHCA (PDF) (May 15, 2017)

Sign-On Letter to Appropriations Committee Leaders on FY18 Labor-HHS 302(b) Allocation (PDF) (May 8, 2017)

Sign-On Letter to White House and Congressional Leaders on Cost-Sharing Reduction Payments (PDF) (May 1, 2017)

Friends of HRSA Sign-On Letter on FY18 Appropriations (PDF) (March 30, 2017)

AAPA Letter to Reps. Reed and Blumenauer on H.R. 1617, the Promoting Access to Diabetic Shoes Act of 2017 (PDF) (March 24, 2017)

Letter to House leaders on AHCA (PDF) (March 24, 2017)

Letter to Reps. Jenkins and Thompson in Support of H.R. 1284, the Medicare Patient Access to Hospice Act (PDF) (March 6, 2017)

Letter to Senator Tester in Support of S. 426, The GOOD Act (PDF) (Feb. 22, 2017)

Archived letters to the 114th Congress

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Tips for Writing Effective Letters to Congress

writing a letter to congress sample

Writing a letter to your member of Congress is an effective and easy way to communicate your views, because all congressional offices monitor correspondence from their constituents. Your letter will be open, read, and most likely answered by an aide. Although the legislators themselves usually do not read letters, that does not mean your letter will not have an impact. A well-written, thought-provoking letter from a scientific expert can educate an aide, thereby influencing the legislator as well.

Usually the response to your letter will be a standard letter or collection of paragraphs. Since congressional offices receive hundreds or even thousands of letters and emails each week, staff does not have the time to send personalized replies in most cases. The important issue is whether their reply answers your questions or responds directly to your request for the legislator to take a certain position. If it does not, write again and request a clear answer.

Hill pundits argue that a personal letter with hand-written address on the envelope is the best way to get your legislator’s attention. However, with increased security on Capitol Hill, postal mail can take anywhere from four to six weeks to reach your legislator. If your message is urgent, such as related to an upcoming vote, send a personalized email instead. Recent research shows that a personalized email, and even a personalized fax, is nearly as effective at influencing your legislators. The tips below apply to postal mail, email, and faxes. When choosing which method to use, consider the urgency of your message (is there a vote coming up soon?), if you would like to use your institution’s letterhead, and which method is simplest for you (any letter is more persuasive than no letter!).


TIPS: 

  1. Address your letter correctly. Be sure you have the correct address and salutation on your letter. You can find the address of all of your legislators here. If sending an email, many offices require you to fill out a webform, rather the send an email to a specific person. Following the directions on the website will ensure your letter goes through the proper channels and is read by the appropriate person. 

  2. Write to the legislators for whom you can vote. Elected officials are most interested in your opinions if you are their constituent.  Occasionally it may be useful to write to committee chairs, even if they do not represent your district or state. 

  3. Address only one issue per letter. Such a letter will have more impact and receive a quicker response than one covering multiple issues. If you have professional expertise on the issue you are addressing, be sure to describe it. Don’t expect that the aide reading the letter will assume that an ecologist or a physicist (for example) has any expertise related to climate change. 

  4. Ask for something specific. Ask the legislator to take a particular action, such as cosponsoring a bill or taking a leadership role on an issue. Ask the legislator to state his or her position in a letter of response. 

  5. Keep it short. To make sure your letter is read rather than skimmed, make your points quickly and concisely. 

  6. Make it personal. Tie the issue to your personal expertise or experience, or to the district or state represented by the legislator. Use your own words. 

  7. Use your institution’s letterhead. If you work in an academic setting, consider sending your letter on your institution’s letterhead. While you should be clear that your opinion is a personal one, using your institution’s letterhead will grab the reader’s attention and help to establish your credibility on the issue. If you work in a private or government setting, make sure you are allowed to use letterhead on correspondence of this nature. 

  8. Be courteous. Rudeness will always alienate your reader. 

  9. When appropriate, express your appreciation. Like anybody, legislators appreciate an occasional “well done.” Furthermore, in this manner you signal that you are paying attention to your legislator’s activities.

  10. Include your return address on your letter. By including your address in the letter, all readers will know that you are a constituent and will know what address to send a response to. 

  11. Follow up. Follow-up letters often have a much larger impact than the initial communication. Thank the legislator for taking a correct stand, or ask questions about any unsatisfactory answers.

When writing to Congress, state your pupose, make your letter personal and Example: My name is Janet Calloway, and I am writing this letter to ask that you.

Sample Letters to Congressperson

writing a letter to congress sample

People who think members of the U.S. Congress pay little or no attention to constituent mail are just plain wrong. Concise, well thought out personal letters are one of the most effective ways Americans have of influencing the lawmakers they elect. 

Members of Congress get hundreds of letters and emails every day, so you will want your letter stand out. Whether you choose to use the U.S. Postal Service or email, here are some tips that will help you write a letter to Congress that has an impact.

Letter or Email?

Always send a traditional letter. While it is easier to send an email, and all Senators and Representatives now have email addresses, written letters get more attention and have more impact. The Senators and Representatives and their staffs get literally hundreds of emails every day. Emails from their constituents are mixed in with emails from fellow lawmakers and staff members and are thus easily overlooked or disregarded. In addition, taking the time to send a traditional, handwritten letter is the best way to show you “really care” about the issues you are addressing.

Think Locally

It's usually best to send letters to the representative from your local congressional district or the senators from your state. Your vote helps elect them—or not—and that fact alone carries a lot of weight. It also helps personalize your letter. Sending the same "cookie-cutter" message to every member of Congress may grab attention but rarely much consideration.

It's also a good idea to think about the effectiveness of all of your communication options. For instance, a face-to-face meeting at an event, town hall, or the representative's local office can often leave the biggest impression.

That is not always an option though. Your next best bet for expressing your opinion is a formal letter, then a phone call to their office. While email is convenient and quick, it may not have the same influence as the other, more traditional, routes.

Finding Your Legislator's Address

There are a few ways that you can find the addresses of all of your representatives in Congress. The U.S. Senate is easy because each state has two Senators. Senate.gov has an easy to navigate directory of all current Senators. You will find links to their website, their email and phone number, as well as the address to their office in Washington D.C.

The House of Representatives is a little trickier because you need to search for the person representing your particular district within the state. The easiest way to do so is to type in your zip code under "Find Your Representative" at House.gov. This will narrow down your options but you may need to refine it based on your physical address because zip codes and Congressional districts do not coincide.

In both houses of Congress, the representative's official website will also have all the contact information you need. This includes the locations of their local offices.

Keep Your Letter Simple

Your letter will be more effective if you address a single topic or issue rather than a variety of issues you may feel passionate about. Typed, one-page letters are best. Many Political Action Committees (PACs) recommend a three-paragraph letter structured like this:

  1. Say why you are writing and who you are. List your "credentials" and state that you are a constituent. It also doesn't hurt to mention if you voted for or donated to them. If you want a response, you must include your name and address, even when using email.
  2. Provide more detail. Be factual and not emotional. Provide specific rather than general information about how the topic affects you and others. If a certain bill is involved, cite the correct title or number whenever possible.
  3. Close by requesting the action you want to be taken. It might be a vote for or against a bill, a change in general policy, or some other action, but be specific.

The best letters are courteous, to the point, and include specific supporting examples.

Proofread Your Letter

Always proofread your letter before mailing it. Read over it at least twice, checking for spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors. Make sure you have not repeated yourself, failed to make your points clearly, or left anything out. An error-free letter adds to your credibility. 

Identifying Legislation

Members of Congress have a lot of items on their agendas, so it's best to be as specific as possible regarding your issue. When writing about a particular bill or piece of legislation, include the official number so they know exactly what you're referring to (it also helps your credibility).

  • House Bills: "H.R._____"
  • House Resolutions: "H.RES._____"
  • House Joint Resolutions: "H.J.RES._____"
  • Senate Bills: "S._____"
  • Senate Resolutions: "S.RES._____"
  • Senate Joint Resolutions: "S.J.RES._____"

Addressing Members of Congress

There is also a formal way to address members of Congress. Use these headers to begin your letter, filling in the appropriate name and addresses for your Congressperson. Also, it's best to include the header in an email message.

The Honorable (full name)
(room #) (name) Senate Office Building
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senator (last name):

The Honorable (full name)
(room #) (name) House Office Building
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Representative (last name):

Contact the U.S. Supreme Court

The Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court do not have email addresses, but they do read letters from citizens. You can mail letters using the address found on the SupremeCourt.gov website.

Key Things to Remember

Here are some key things you should always and never do when writing to your elected representatives.

  1. Be courteous and respectful without "gushing."
  2. Clearly and simply state the purpose of your letter. If it's about a certain bill, identify it correctly. 
  3. Say who you are. Anonymous letters go nowhere. Even in email, include your correct name, address, phone number, and email address. If you don't include at least your name and address, you will not get a response.
  4. State any professional credentials or personal experience you may have, especially those pertaining to the subject of your letter.
  5. Keep your letter short—one page is best.
  6. Use specific examples or evidence to support your position.
  7. State what it is you want to be done or recommend a course of action.
  8. Thank the member for taking the time to read your letter.

What Not to Do

Just because they represent the voters does not mean that members of Congress are subject to abuse or belittlement. As impassioned as you may be about an issue, your letter will be more effective if it's written from a calm, logical perspective. If you're angry about something, write your letter then edit the next day to ensure you're conveying a courteous, professional tone. Also, make sure to avoid these pitfalls.

Do not use vulgarity, profanity, or threats. The first two are just plain rude and the third one can get you a visit from the Secret Service. Simply stated, don't let your passion get in the way of making your point.

Do not fail to include your name and address, even in email letters. Many representatives prioritize comments from their constituents and a letter in the mail may be the only way you receive a response.

Do not demand a response. You may not get one no matter what and demand is simply another rude gesture that does little for your case.

Do not use boilerplate text. Many grassroots organizations will send out a prepared text to people interested in their issue, but try not to simply copy and paste this into your letter. Use it as a guide to help you make the point and write the letter in your own words with your personal perspective. Getting thousands of letters that say the exact same thing can diminish the impact.

Tips about writing your Congressman: • Be direct and to the point. • Use email to send your message. All letters sent to Congress via the Postal System are.

writing a letter to congress sample
Written by Dougrel
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