How to write your congressional representative

How to write your congressional representative

Email or Letter?

Handwritten letters always receive more attention than preprinted materials. So if you are writing about a general inquiry or topic, taking the extra time to send a physical letter may be worth it.

That said, consider the urgency of the matter. If you are writing concerning a pending vote, email is your best option as security screenings may delay receipt of a physical letter by up to three weeks.

What happens to emails and letters once they arrive? A legislative correspondent reads the messages and verifies if the sender is a constituent. Messages are then routed or tallied:

  • Important or compelling correspondence is given to a legislative assistant.
  • Unique and moving messages are shared with the member of Congress.
  • A summary of emails and letters received is given at an issue briefing before a vote.

9 Essential Tips for Writing Your Congressperson

Write letters only about the issues of greatest importance to you. That way you don’t dilute your influence or your message. Each letter should be:

State your subject clearly in the email subject line or first sentence of the letter. Stick to just one issue in the letter.

Identify yourself as a constituent. State your views, support them with your expert knowledge and, when appropriate, cite the bill number of relevant legislation (e.g., H.R. 1234 or S.3456).

Ask for the policymaker’s point of view and how he or she plans to vote on relevant legislation. Expect an answer to a letter, though it may be a form response. Replies to email vary by office; not all reply.

Rely on the facts, but personalize the issue. Explain how the issue affects your life. Avoid personal attacks, threats of political influence or demands.

Be positive about your issue and offer recommendations about how you want the member to address concerns.

Always explain the hometown relevance of the issue. Use “I” statements and cite specific times and examples.

Offer to provide additional information if needed, and provide your contact information.

Remember to thank members for their attention. Follow the issue and thank them later if they vote your way.

Keep your letter to one page, or your email to 500 words or less.

Sample Letters

How to write your congressional representative

View a sample email (PDF, 239KB) to a legislator.

How to write your congressional representative

View two sample letters (PDF, 246KB) o a legislator.

Take the Next Step

Find out who to contact and stay informed.

Use the Senate’s locator to find your two senators.

How to write your congressional representative

@2019 by Randall E. White, author of American Popular Sovereignty

The Twelve Questions Letter

This blog provides an example of effective administrative letter-writing as a vehicle to achieving political remedy. When raising an issue on the national level of government, the essential elements of effective letter-writing include:

  1. Writing to the five essential representative offices that are usually involved in making or enforcing public policy and laws, which are: (a) our President; (b) the chief executive officer in charge of the executive agency overseeing our issue; (c) our Representative in Congress; and (d) our two State Senators
  2. Explaining why the issue is of great national importance
  3. Citing the public authority under which We the People have a right to request representative action in the matter, together with our representatives’ duty to comply with our request
  4. Telling our representatives exactly what we want them to do: e.g., for the President to issue an Executive Order creating a certain public policy for the relevant executive agency to follow; and for our Representatives and Senators in Congress to support the public policy set forth in the Executive Order, together with creating or amending legislation which will solve the underlying problem that the Executive Order is temporarily fixing.
  5. Sending the letter to our public representatives in the hundreds of thousands or millions to provide them with evidence of our public will in the matter, which they can use to leverage or defend political action on our behalf

The following is an example of an administrative letter which is asking some objectively reasonable questions about federal taxation, which is actually a “hot potato” issue involving public corruption, wherein the intended remedy is ultimately our being granted access to a Grand Jury, which has the inherent legal authority and public powers necessary to investigate and prosecute the matter on our behalf. In the event that our public representatives do not comply with our administrative request, then our alternative remedy is to directly establish public policy or law through the ballot initiative process. The letter template is in standard business letter format, as follows:

City, state, postal code

President Donald J. Trump; The White House; 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW; Washington, DC 20500

Commissioner Charles P. Rettig; Internal Revenue Service; 1111 Constitution Avenue, NW; Washington, D.C. 20224

Representative [name]; address; Washington, DC, postal code

Senator [name]; address; Washington, DC, postal code

Senator [name]; address; Washington, DC, postal code

Re: Questions concerning federal tax liability

Dear Public Representatives,

I am writing to you in my capacity as one of We the People, who are the creators of our government and having the authority to protect our Constitution. This letter presents questions of great national importance affecting the rights and duties of millions of private sector working-class Americans in relation to our Internal Revenue laws. We require straightforward answers which will assist us in properly determining the legal status of our pay when preparing federal tax returns.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) asserts in its official publications, forms, liens and levy actions, that all Americans are liable for a federal income tax on our wages of labor and earnings from self-employment. The IRS sanctions third-party reporting about our pay on the IRS forms W-2 and 1099, which the IRS routinely uses to assert that we have a federal income tax liability.

Whereas Article I of our Constitution prohibits direct federal taxation without apportionment and the last time Congress levied a direct tax was in 1861, which expired in 1872, taken together with the fact that the Sixteenth Amendment did not repeal or modify Article I, it is not clear how the IRS federal taxation, lien and levy policies and practices involving the forms W-2, 1099, and 1040 conform to the basic elements of direct and indirect federal taxation under our Constitution, or to our Internal Revenue laws.

Therefore, pursuant to your oath of office to uphold and defend our Constitution, and your duties thereunder, please assist us in understanding our rights and duties in this matter by answering the following straightforward questions:

  1. Concerning the IRS Form W-2, identify any sections of the Internal Revenue Code that levy a tax with respect to the wages of labor.
  2. What is the subject of the tax?
  3. What is the measure of the tax?
  4. In accordance with the basic elements of direct and indirect federal taxation under the Constitution, how is the tax a circuitous mode of reaching the revenue of the individual? [1]
  5. Concerning the IRS Form 1099-MISC, identify any sections of the Internal Revenue Code that levy a tax with respect to non-employee compensation.
  6. What is the subject of the tax?
  7. What is the measure of the tax?
  8. How is the tax a circuitous mode of reaching the revenue of the individual?
  9. Concerning the IRS Form 1099-K, identify any sections of the Internal Revenue Code that levy a tax with respect to an individual utilizing a merchant processing service for conducting retail sales over the Internet.
  10. What is the subject of the tax?
  11. What is the measure of the tax?
  12. How is the tax a circuitous mode of reaching the revenue of the individual?

Thank you for in advance for your cooperation by providing truthful, complete, and timely answers to our questions.

[1] White, R. (2019). Direct and Indirect Taxation Under the Constitution. American Popular Sovereignty; A guide to restoring participatory government and achieving remedy. (pp. 280-294). Fort Worth, TX: APS Education.

Citizen Homework:

Take the letter above and complete with your name, address and mail or email to your Congressional representatives. Or write a letter of your own about a topic that you feel is important for the President, your Senators, or Congressional representatives.

Then mail or press the send tab. Our government works when we get involved.

The American Intelligence Media and American Popular Sovereignty invite you to join patriots everywhere in learning American history and civics – the real stuff, not the propaganda found in public school textbooks from publishers with Pilgrims Society affiliations.

To get started, we recommend that you subscribe to this blog where you will receive regular updates, including video presentations, recommended articles, and conversations between authors Randall E. White and Douglas Gabriel. For students that can’t wait to dig in, go ahead and purchase the print textbook which ships anywhere in the world:

JILL KOKEMULLER

CLASS

You do not need a special form to file a letter of complaint with your congressional representative. Anyone can make a complaint; you merely state your complaint in a brief, direct, matter-of-fact letter and address it to the senator or representative for your state. While there isn’t a formal method of filing, there are a few guidelines you should follow that will help lend weight to your complaint and get it in the hands of the intended recipient.

Visit the Senate or House of Representative website to find the names and addresses of the senators from your state or representative from your district, in order to properly direct your complaint.

Include your name and return address at the top of the letter, whether you are mailing it or faxing it. This will both provide a way for your legislator to respond to your complaint, and show you are a constituent residing in the state or local district.

Use the proper form of address. Letters to senators are addressed to “Senator John Doe,” while letters to House members are addressed to “The Honorable (or Representative) Jane Doe.”

Get right to the point. State your complaint clearly and briefly. Letters are best kept to one page. If you are an expert on the subject, include your credentials. If you have any evidence to support your claim, mention it.

Ensure your letter is legible. If your handwriting is poor or difficult to decipher, type the letter and print it out. Your complaint will have little impact if your congressperson can’t read it.

Keep it timely. If your complaint is about a bill that is up for debate, send your letter while the bill is still being considered and while your legislator can actually act on your complaint. If the bill has already been voted on or moved to a different committee, the window of effectiveness has passed.

Be polite. Antagonistic, rude or disrespectful language will not help you get your point across. Instead, it will likely ensure that your letter is not taken seriously.

Mail or fax your completed letter to the legislator or legislators of your choice.

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
How to Address a Representative
How to Address a Congressman or Congresswoman

—- Envelope or address block on an email:
——– The Honorable (Full Name)
——– (Room) (Name of House Office Building)
——– United States House of Representatives
——– Washington, DC 20515

—- Official envelope as chairman of a committee or subcommittee:
——– The Honorable (Full Name)
——– Chairman
——– (Committee or subcommittee name)
——– (Address)
—-———-—- or
—————- The Honorable (Full Name)
—————- Chair
—————- (Committee or subcommittee name)
—————- (Address)

—- Letter salutation:
——– Dear Mr./Ms. (Surname):
——————- See NOTE below
—–— Congressman (Surname):
—–— Congresswoman (Surname):
—–— Representative (Surname):

Robert Hickey author of “Honor & Respect”

NOTE ON HONORIFICS: It surprises many that the first option for a salutation when addressing a member of the U.S. House of Representatives is Mr./Ms. (Surname) rather than Congressman (Surname), Congresswoman (Surname) and Representative (Surname). Congressman, Congresswoman and Representative are in fact less formal honorifics.

Members often prefer Congressman (Surname), Congresswoman (Surname) or Representative (Surname). I’d describe it as a practice which emphasizes the office held in a way Mr./Ms. (Surname) does not.

RE: Congressman and Congresswoman: Purists say that since ‘Congress’ is comprised of two bodies – the Senate and the House of Representatives – members of both houses are technically ‘Congressmen’. But in the public’s mind Congressman/Congresswoman identify members of the House.

WHAT TO DO? If you know the Member prefers Congressman/Congresswoman (Surname) or Representative (Surname) – use their preferred form in conversation. Often you can find out their preference by looking at the banner on their website. Typically they present their name there using one of the three honorifics.

But back to formal correspondance – in writing it’s the Honorable (Full Name) and in a salutation as Mr. (Name) or Ms. (Name) as noted above.

Sorry for this long note!

BELOW: Note how on Capitol Hill members (seated behind their committee name plates) are Mr./Ms./Mrs. (Surname) How to Address a Congressman Congresswoman How to Address a Congressman Congresswoman

How to write your congressional representative How to write your congressional representative

Robert Hickey author of “Honor & Respect”

How to Address a US Representative-Elect?

How would I address someone elected to the House of Representatives, but not yet sworn in?
—————- – Mike

Dear Mike,
A representative-elect is addressed in writing as:

—- Official envelope:
—- —- The Honorable (Full Name)
—- —- (Address)

—- And in conversation as …
—- —- Mr./Ms./etc. (Surname)

Officials become the Honorable once elected. In conversation or a salutation use the honorific to which they are entitled prior to taking office.

They will be addressed orally or in a salutation as ‘Congressman/woman (Surname)’ or ‘Representative (Surname)’ once they have taken the oath of office.

– Robert Hickey How to Address a Congressman Congresswoman

How to Address a Former Member of the US House of Representatives?

I am meeting one of our former congressional Representatives next week, and I am wondering if it is still appropriate to address them as ‘Congressman’ or ‘Representative’, even though they have been voted out of office?
——————– – Peter Michaels

Dear Mr. Michaels,

The short answer is: Former members continue to be in writing ‘the Honorable (Full Name)’ but in conversation or a salutation go back to the honorific to which they were entitled prior to taking office. Typically Mr./Ms./Dr./etc.

More detail includes:

—— #1) In writing they continue to be ‘the Honorable’. The rule is – once an honorable, always an honorable – unless removed from office something ugly or resigning in disgrace.

—— #2) Formally in official situations they are orally addressed in a salutation and conversation as ‘Mr./Ms./etc. (Name)’. However, in practice, in social situations many will informally, casually, continue to use the honorifics ‘Congressman’ ‘Congresswoman’ or ‘Representative’. As long as there’s no possibility anyone present might be led to believe they were the current office holder it does not cause much problem.

—— #3) Former members are addressed with neither ‘the Honorable’ nor ‘Congressman’ ‘Congresswoman’ or ‘Representative’ when in new role such as legal counsel, lobbyist or agent for a private enterprise. In those situations, addressing as a private citizen is appropriate: ‘Mr./Ms./etc. (Name)’. Much like retired military officers – if former officials are in a new job, they should be addressed in a way supported by their new job – and not with the forms they enjoyed when they were a government official.

– Robert Hickey How to Address a Congressman Congresswoman How to Address a Congressman Congresswoman

SI KINGSTON

TESTS

Service academies or military colleges, such as West Point, the Naval Academy, the Merchant Marines and the Air Force Academy, require that applicants be nominated by a member of Congress. A congressman will typically select 10 potential candidates, and then use a competitive nomination process to select a single candidate to endorse. The nine runners-up are usually placed on a waiting list, so if the selected candidate decides against a military college, an alternate can be selected. To improve your chances of success, you should apply for nomination from more than one representative or senator.

Contact your representative or senator and request a service academy application. You may request application materials from your state senators as well. Applying for multiple nominations from more than one elected official will increase your odds. You can contact your representative by phone or mail. Some state representatives also have this information available for download on their websites.

Take the ACT or SAT exams. These are college entrance examinations, and the results are required by most four-year colleges and universities, including military colleges. You must have your exam scores mailed to the official’s office by the date required. This date will be specified on the official’s website, or in the service academy instructions. You must also indicate your exam scores on the application.

Read over the application instructions and make sure you meet the basic requirements. The application packet will specify in what congressional or senatorial district you must live and the age requirements to be considered. In most cases, you must be 17 and not past your 23rd birthday by July 1 of the entry year. You must also be unmarried, not pregnant, and free of legal obligation to support children.

Complete the service academy application. Enter your full name, address and other contact information, as well as your social security number, date of birth, place of birth and citizenship status. Then you will need to add your parents’ names, the high school you attend, your GPA, class rank and SAT or ACT exam score. Enter a number next to each academy, according to your preference. For example, enter “1” next to the Naval Academy, if that is your first preference. Place numbers 2 through 4 next to the other service academies, in order of your preference for them. Another candidate may win the nomination for your first choice academy, but you may still win the nomination for your second or fourth choices.

Order official transcripts from your school. Official transcripts must be stamped and are usually sealed in an envelope.

Get three letters of recommendation from adult, non-family members, such as a teacher, counselor, boss, coach or clergyman. Each recommendation must be sealed in an envelope by the writer.

Complete an essay. Read the instructions provided in your service academy application packet for word count and essay topic requirements.

Create a resume indicating your extracurricular activities, leadership positions and athletic accomplishments. Remember to include your academic accomplishments and any awards or honors you’ve received.

Copy your birth certificate and get a wallet-sized photo of yourself.

Submit the completed service academy application, official transcripts, letters of recommendation, wallet-sized photo, resume and essay to the congressperson’s office by the deadline date.

Attend an interview with your congressperson, or with one of her office representatives, if selected as a candidate, and be sure to dress professionally. Men should wear slacks and dress shirt, or a suit: Women should wear business slacks or a skirt, with a professional blouse or shirt.

Launched in 2004, GovTrack helps everyone learn about and track the activities of the United States Congress. This is a project of Civic Impulse, LLC. GovTrack.us is not a government website.

You are encouraged to reuse any material on this site. Hackers/journalists/researchers: See these open data sources.

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We’re also on social media

GovTrack.us is an independent website tracking the status of legislation in the United States Congress and helping you participate in government. Now we’re on Instagram too!

Follow @govtrack.us on Instagram for new 60-second summary videos of legislation in Congress.

Follow @govtrack on Twitter for posts about legislative activity and other information we’re tracking, and some commentary.

Join GovTrack’s Advisory Community

We’re looking to learn more about who uses GovTrack and what features you find helpful or think could be improved. If you can, please take a few minutes to help us improve GovTrack for users like you.

Start by telling us more about yourself:

I’m a lobbyist, advocate, or other professional. I’m a young person (younger than 26 years old). I’m a member of a minority or disadvantaged group. I’m a teacher, librarian, or other educator. Other

We hope to make GovTrack more useful to policy professionals like you. Please sign up for our advisory group to be a part of making GovTrack a better tool for what you do.

Young Americans have historically been the least involved in politics, despite the huge consequences policies can have on them. By joining our advisory group, you can help us make GovTrack more useful and engaging to young voters like you.

Our mission is to empower every American with the tools to understand and impact Congress. We hope that with your input we can make GovTrack more accessible to minority and disadvantaged communities who we may currently struggle to reach. Please join our advisory group to let us know what more we can do.

We love educating Americans about how their government works too! Please help us make GovTrack better address the needs of educators by joining our advisory group.

Would you like to join our advisory group to work with us on the future of GovTrack?

Email address where we can reach you:

Thank you for joining the GovTrack Advisory Community! We’ll be in touch.

Why we built Democracy.io

Democracy thrives when people’s voices are heard. The easier it is for you to contact Congress, the better. It’s that simple.

Failure to effectively reach members of Congress has disastrous consequences. Studies show that politicians fundamentally misconceive their constituents’ views, making it harder for them to represent us in the lawmaking process.

That’s why we built Democracy.io: a new tool to put you in touch with your members of Congress—with as few clicks as possible.

Simple and easy to use

We make it possible for you to email your two senators and representative through a single website. You submit one message—not three different messages on three different forms on three different websites.

Some key features:

  • All your senators and representatives on one website.
  • Say whatever you want. Many activism platforms want you to send a pre-written message about a specific topic. We let you tell Congress exactly what’s on your mind.
  • Free software. All our code is licensed under the AGPL, which means people can create new versions with different features and continue to improve on our original idea.

We don’t tell people what to say

This project is hosted by the Taskforce.is, but it’s a neutral tool. We don’t control or influence the messages that are sent through Democracy.io. We’re committed to free speech, and we support the free speech rights of our users.

Sometimes we may oppose what people choose to tell their legislators. Even in those cases, we won’t censor what individuals choose to say. We think society benefits from a plurality of voices speaking on a broad range of topics, and as a free speech organization this is a value we hold dear, even if we disagree with the message.

While we have tried to make the best tool we can, please understand that Democracy.io may have bugs or other technical issues, and is offered without any warranty; without even the implied warranty of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. See the license for more details.

Why we’re doing this.

First, we want contacting your elected officials to be easy. Then more people will do it. And that’s good for democracy.

We also want to show off the functionality of the tools Taskforce.is has been creating over the last several years. We are working from the contact-congress dataset originally created by the Participatory Politics Foundation and later adopted by and improved upon by the Sunlight Foundation, EFF, and several collaborating organizations. Together, we’ve been working on a large-scale project to improve how Internet users contact elected officials and other decision makers.

Democracy.io lets you test out one of these tools—emailing members of Congress—but we’re also creating simple ways to send Tweets to members of Congress, call Congress, sign petitions, and submit official comments to government agencies. If you’re an advocacy organization that likes how this works, check out our Github page and contact [email protected] to discuss whether these free software, user-focused tools are a good solution for your advocacy needs.

Who is behind this project

Democracy.io was built by three amazing programmers who want to make the world a better place—Sina Khanifar, Leah Jones, and Randy Lubin, as part of a project for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. It’s maintained by Taskforce.is.

The backend system that delivers these messages to Congress was written by EFF employee William Budington. The contact-congress dataset that was completed with help from over 100 EFF volunteer web developers, (and in particular these five individuals). The dataset is now maintained by EFF, the Sunlight Foundation, and Action Network.

Jump in, change the world.

Want to help with this and future technology projects? If you’re a web developer who might want to occasionally volunteer, send an email to [email protected] and also sign up with Taskforce, a volunteer group that works with EFF on many projects to make the Internet more awesome and free.

How to write your congressional representative

Where to Call

When calling your senator or representative’s Washington, D.C., office, you’ll speak with a member of their staff. Don’t expect to speak personally with your senator or representative.

Congressional staff work long hours—10 to 12 days are not uncommon—and have many demands and pressures on their time. Take the time before you call to craft a concise and compelling message.

4 Essential Tips for Calling Your Member of Congress

Making a phone call to your representatives to request action on specific legislation is a great idea. Here’s how to do it.

Know the issue you wish to discuss, your goal or the action you want the legislator to take. Before calling, have your message written in front of you and review it carefully so you know exactly what you want to say. Include a few compelling facts to convince them to take action. APA can help you develop talking points.

Identify Yourself & Ask for a Legislative Assistant

Identify yourself as a constituent. Briefly state your your title and position, if relevant. Ask to speak with the legislative assistant responsible for the issue.

State Your Purpose

Keep the message simple and concise. A good model to follow is: State the issue, support with facts and then state your goal, such as asking the legislator’s support for a bill.

Avoid emotional arguments, personal attacks, threats of political influence or demands. Thank the staffer for taking your call and let him or her know how you will follow up.

Sample Phone Call

This example focuses on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (EDNA).

Identify yourself and explain your relationship with the senator or representative:

“Hi, my name is NAME, and I am calling as a constituent and psychologist/graduate student from ORGANIZATION OR INSTITUTION.”

Explain why you are calling:

“It is very important to me that you pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.”

Establish why your issue is necessary and the perspective you offer as a psychologist or graduate student:

“As psychological professionals, we work to improve the health and well-being of all Americans every day. Data indicate that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people suffer disproportionately from harassment and prejudice in the workplace. Federal workplace protections for LGBT people would serve to reduce discrimination, improve self-esteem, and heighten work productivity and satisfaction.”

Ask your member of Congress to take action:

“I urge the SENATOR/REPRESENTATIVE to vote YES to pass ENDA.”

Thank the staffer:

“Thanks for your time and attention today.”

Take the Next Step

Find out who to contact and stay informed.

Use the Senate’s locator to find your two senators.