In the United States, the right to petition is guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. This July 4, you can celebrate our country by exercising that very right.
For example, the week of July 4, Jonathan Barnes from Oneida, Kentucky, is going to meet with Representative Hal Rogers (R-KY) to talk about supporting the foreign aid budget!
President Trump’s budget request for 2018 proposes cutting the budget for State and USAID by nearly a third. Those cuts would be disastrous for those living in extreme poverty. That’s why we’ve urged ONE members to oppose these proposed cuts. But aside from signing a petition, there are lots of ways to contact your representatives and senators! Here are a few ways to get in touch and make your voice heard this July 4:
First, find out who your representatives are!
Don’t actually know who the representative for your district is? No worries, we’ve got you covered! To find out who your senator is, go to the United States Senate website, where you can search for a senator by name or state. You can find out who your representative is by going here and entering your zip code. Easy peasy!
Give them a call.
Now that you know who your representatives are, it’s time to let them know what you think! Elected officials typically have offices both in Washington, D.C. and in their home states or districts. To call their D.C. office, you can contact the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121: Tell them who you’re looking for, and they will connect you directly to the office. You can also search your representative’s website, as they will have phone numbers listed for all of their offices. Once you’ve done that, we suggest you save their number as a contact in your phone! That makes for easy calling and will save you time once you’re in the habit of calling your reps.
Send an email.
Another way to get your point across is to send your elected official an email! Usually, your representative will have an email address listed alongside their contact information on their campaign or office website. Sometimes they even have email forms right there that you can fill out and send off with a click of a button!
When addressing your representative, it’s important to use the appropriate language. Include your full name and zip code or address so they know that you are a constituent in their area. Use the body of the email to make your case, and be clear about what action you want your representative to take.
Write some snail mail. (Really!)
Yes, this is still a great way to contact your representatives! Personal letters from constituents are very effective in communicating your concerns to your senators and congressmen. You can send a letter to either their D.C. office or their district office — or both! As with the email, be sure to include your address or zip code and be clear about the message you want to convey. Here’s the basic address form when you’re ready to send it off:
The Honorable (Full Name)
[Room #] [Building Name] Senate Office Building
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510
The Honorable (Full Name)
[Room #] [Building Name] House Office Building
United States House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515
You can find the office number and building name on your elected official’s website.
Find them on social media.
Social media is a great way to share quick thoughts, comments, or reactions with your elected officials! Most senators and congressmen have Facebook and Twitter accounts, and some of the more tech-savvy representatives have taken up Snapchat as well!
And here’s even more great news: Facebook’s new Town Hall feature makes it easier for you to find, follow, like, and share information from representatives in your area. If you look on the left hand side of your Facebook account, you’ll see an “explore” option — the Town Hall feature appears in the drop down menu. You’ll be prompted to share your address (privately, of course) and then Facebook will pull up a list of local, state, and federal representatives in your district. From there, you can follow any or all of your representatives Facebook pages, meaning their posts will show up in your newsfeed. That makes it a lot easier to comment and share their posts, or just to stay informed about what your elected officials are up to!
Visit them in person!
Yes, you can actually talk to your elected official in person! That’s exactly what Jonathan Barnes, above, is going to do soon: He has a meeting scheduled with Rep. Hal Rogers to talk about supporting the foreign aid budget.
Meeting with your representative in person can be the most effective way to get your message across — even if opportunities to do so are few and far between. There are a few ways to go about scheduling a meeting with your representative. Usually, meetings with small groups of people with a very clear interest to discuss get picked up faster than single-person meetings. Some websites will have forms you can fill out to request a meeting, and if not, you can call the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 to try and schedule a meeting. If it takes a while for your rep to get back to you, don’t get discouraged! Congressional schedulers have a lot on their plate, and often the calendars are booked up months in advance. Be patient, and be persistent.
Want to help Jonathan for his meeting with Rep. Rogers during the week of July 4? About 96,000 people have signed our petition in support of foreign aid, but to make a strong case, Jonathan is really hoping to present about 100,000 names. Sign our petition today to show your support!