Congress is home through the weekend of April 22nd. Want to do something useful over the April Recess? Contact your Senators’ home-state staff! Staff in your Senators’ state offices have the ear of your Senator while he/she is home.
How Should I Make Contact?
Showing up to the office works. Otherwise, either a call or email is fine. Calling is more effective, though it’s getting more difficult to reach a human being at a Senate office. Do not send a letter. It must be irradiated and may not be read.
Find the highest ranking person in this spreadsheet, particularly if he/she is in a regional office located near you. Address your meeting request, call, or email to that person.
What Should I Say?
Ask for support in the budget for programs critical to American heritage. Examples: the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Historic Preservation Fund, and National Heritage Areas. As always, start your email (or call) by: (a) mentioning that you are a constituent, and (b) dropping names of other constituencies/businesses/organizations that are located in the state. Do not contact a Senate office if you do not have a connection to a state (you live there, or your firm has an office there.)
The 2nd sentence of your message should include a specific ask in the first clause, and the reason for the ask in the second clause (or a 3rd sentence). There is no need to be overly formal or wordy. In fact, the more informal you are, the more likely the message will be read, because it won’t look like a form letter. Get to the point.
Example: “Hey Joe, My name is Sarah Anderson, and I live and work in Denver. I am writing to urge Senator Gardner to support continued funding in FY 2018 for the National Endowment for the Humanities, which provides important support to make cultural heritage accessible to all Americans.”
Then give an anecdote that further connects the issue to the state. Visit https://www.neh.gov/divisions/preservation/featured-project to learn more about NEH grants that have been made in your state. Our example caller would then say: “For example, NEH funded important upgrades at the Molly Brown House Museum here in Denver. I hope that Senator Gardner will make sure that important funding from NEH continues to be available for us here in Colorado.”
Should You Contact Republicans or Democrats?
Both. Start with Republicans, but Senate Democrats have a decent amount of influence over the appropriations process. Funding for discretionary spending programs will need 60 votes in the Senate.