Each U.S. citizen has 3 elected representatives in Congress: 2 Senators in the Senate and 1 Representative in the House. To find out who your congressional representatives are, see "Congressional Directories" below.
This book is one part research studies, one part interviews and focus groups, and one part experience. It uses available research on Congress and its decision making. Dozens of elected officials, including members of Congress, and their staff agreed to off-the-record interviews and discussed the factors that contribute to their decision-making process.
- Strategies for Influencing Legislators Face-to-Face
- Best Practices for Communicating with Congress and State Legislatures
- Practical Guidance How to Prepare for and Meet with Elected Officials
- How to Write Effective Letters and Email to Members of Congress
- How to Write Persuasive Letters to the Editor that Get Published
Table of ContentsAbout This Book
Part I. How Government Really Works
Ch. 1. How Congressional Offices Work
1.1 Dominant Role of Constituents
1.2 Offices Are Like Small Businesses
1.3 Representational Work for Constituents
1.4 Legislative Work for the District, State, and Nation
Ch. 2. Congressional Culture
2.1 Working Environment of "The Last Plantation."
2.2 Congressional Hierarchy
2.3 Committees - Where the Real Work Is Done
2.4 Congressional Staff Descriptions
Ch. 3. How Legislators Make Decisions
3.3 Health (political)
Ch. 4. People Who Can (and Can't) Influence Legislators and How They Do It
4.1 Family and Friends Have the Lawmaker's Ear
4.2 Knowledgeable Acquaintances Can Make a Difference
4.3 Legislators Pay Attention to Respected Colleagues
4.4 Legislative Leaders and Arm Twisting
4.5 The Real Influence of Lobbyists
4.6 Campaign Contributor Are Less Influential Than You Think
4.7 Are Legislators Driven by Polling?
4.8 How Paid Advertising Affects Legislators' Thinking
4.9 You Are Competing with Everyone, Even Though You Don't Know It
Chart 1 - Influence Factors of Undecided Legislators
Part II. How to Influence a Legislator
Ch. 5. Strategies for Influencing Legislators
5.1 Get to Them BEFORE They Take a Stand
5.2 The Personal Story Trumps All
5.3 How to Build Long-term Relationships with Legislators
5.4 How to Leverage Your Affiliations to Magnify Your Power
5.5 How to Map Your Economic and Political Footprint
5.6 How to Influence Legislators Who Don't Represent You
5.7 How to Influence Congressional Committee Staff
Ch. 6. Face-to-Face Meetings
6.1 Tips for Meeting with Legislators or Staff
6.2 How to Influence Legislators at Town Hall Meetings
6.3 How to Turn a Chance Meeting into a Legislative Victory
6.4 Influencing Staff, and Why It's Important
Ch. 7. Communications
7.1 How to Write Letters and Email to Legislators that Influence Decision-Making
7.2 What Kind of Mail Do Lawmakers Really Read?
7.3 How One Letter Reached the Oval Office and Fed a Million People
7.4 Effective (and Ineffective) Phone Calls to Legislators
7.5 Why Petitions Usually Fail to Influence Congress
7.6 How to Write Letters to the Editor that Get Published
7.7 Thank or Spank: After-the-Vote Communications
7.8 The Magic of Combining Advocacy Tactics
A. U.S. Constitution and Amendments
B. Declaration of Independence
C. The Advocate's Pledge
D. How to Analyze a Legislator's Perception of Our Issue
E. Information about Congress and Washington, DCCapitol SwitchboardG. State and Local Resources
House of Representatives
Resources from TheCapitol.Net
Congress Seating Charts
Congressional Leadership and Committees
Current party numbers in Congress and Differences between the House and the Senate At-a-Glance
Congressional Glossary (of legislative terms)
Pay and perquisites of Members of Congress
Terms of Congress
Visiting Washington, DC page
Publications from TheCapitol.Net
Congressional Deskbook, The Practical and Comprehensive Guide to Congress, by Michael Koempel and Judy Schneider
Congressional Operations Poster
Lobbying and Advocacy, by Deanna Gelak
Persuading Congress, by Joseph Gibson
Testifying Before Congress, by William LaForge
The Federal Budget Process
Bradford Fitch is President of the Congressional Management Foundation. He is the author of Media Relations Handbook for Agencies, Associations, Nonprofits and Congress (TheCapitol.Net) and Citizen's Handbook to Influencing Elected Officials (TheCapitol.Net).
Custom On-Site Training
- Congress in a Nutshell: Understanding Congress
- Congressional Dynamics and the Legislative Process
- Capitol Hill Workshop
- Advanced Legislative Procedure
Audio CD and Print Materials Online download with MP3 audio and materials in PDF Capitol Learning Audio Courses
Capitol Learning Audio Courses are a convenient way to learn about the legislative process, federal budgeting, media relations, business etiquette, and much more. Each course is between 1/2 hour and 2 hours long, and includes the course materials.
Our Capitol Learning Audio Courses can be customized with your logo in quantities of 250 to 10,000 copies. Contact our Client Liaison for details.
- C-SPAN 1 Viewer's Guide: Making Sense of Watching the House of Representatives: Legislative Procedure, Congressional Jargon, and Floor Plan
- C-SPAN 2 Viewer's Guide: Making Sense of Watching the Senate: What's Behind the Classical Music
- What Your Member of Congress Can Do for You: Gallery Passes, Flags, Presidential Greetings, and Help with Federal Agencies
- How to Organize a Capitol Hill Day
- Understanding the Path of Legislation
- Congressional Committees and Party Leadership: Who Controls the Congressional Agenda
- Senate Scheduling and Floor Procedures
- Senate Amendment Procedure
- House Floor Procedures
- The House Rules Committee: Gatekeeper to the Floor
- and more
Also see these related publications
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