How to Get Congress to Change a Law

by Shane Hall
Members of Congress engage in casework for those living in their districts.

Members of Congress engage in casework for those living in their districts.

If you want to get Congress to change a law, get involved in the process. Begin by contacting your members of Congress. Remember, they represent you; letting them know where you stand on an issue of concern is essential. Calls, faxes, letters and emails from constituents can greatly influence the actions of your elected representatives.

Find the contact information for the House member who represents your area, as well as that for your state's two senators. Many online sources can help you get this information.

Contact your elected representatives in writing via email, fax or postal mail. Preparation is important at this stage. State clearly your concerns and the purpose of your letter. Explain why you are writing, your position on the issue, and what you would like your elected representative(s) to do. Remember that congressional staffs receive thousands of letters, emails and faxes; letters that address specific issues or legislation receive more attention than those that state general observations.

Contact your members of Congress by phone at their Washington, DC, offices or at their state offices. You can call the U.S. Capitol's switchboard at (202) 0224-3121 and ask for the representative or senator by name. You are far more likely to talk to a staff member than to the representative or senator, but this is another way of making your voice heard and asking your representatives for help.

Get your friends and neighbors involved. Ask people you know who share your concerns to call and write to their elected representatives. The more people you get involved, the more impact you will have.

Expand your networking and lobbying efforts by seeing if a state or national interest group addresses issues of concern similar to yours. Like it or not, lobbying gets things done in politics. Literally hundreds of special interest groups are dedicated to all types of issues. Get involved with groups who share your concerns, as they often have resources that enable them to lobby members of Congress directly.

If a change to an existing law is pending, ask your elected representatives to consider co-sponsoring the bill. The more co-sponsors a bill has, the better its chances of passage. If legislation comes up for a vote, contact your legislators to urge them to support your position on the bill.

Tip

  • Politeness is key to successfully communicating with members of Congress and their staffs. Tell your representatives that you are a constituent. In all written communication, put your return address on messages and letters; envelopes tend to get thrown away. Be patient, stay involved and informed, and make sure your voice is heard.

Warning

  • An old maxim holds that anyone who likes sausage or law should never watch either one being made. The legislative process through which laws are made is lengthy and complicated.

Items you will need

  • Computer Telephone Pen and paper Contact information for your elected representatives

About the Author

Shane Hall is a writer and research analyst with more than 20 years of experience. His work has appeared in "Brookings Papers on Education Policy," "Population and Development" and various Texas newspapers. Hall has a Doctor of Philosophy in political economy and is a former college instructor of economics and political science.

Photo Credits

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