Since the discovery of anthrax spores in letters addressed to Congress in the Fall of 2001, communicating with Congress has become problematic. However, do not let this added challenge deter you from sharing your views on important civil engineering issues. Here are a few pointers to make sure your message reaches your elected officials in a timely manner, and to help ensure it receives the proper attention.
Use ASCE's Advocacy website to quickly develop an informative letter on an issue currently facing Congress. Go to http://capwiz.com/asce/home/ and follow the directions. Of course, you can draft a letter on your own, but be sure to fax or email it to your lawmaker's office. Contact information for your elected officials can be found on the Advocacy website, or by visiting http://www.house.gov or http://www.senate.gov. Please note that some members of Congress only accept emails written from the official House of Representatives website, http://www.house.gov/writerep/ or from their own personal websites.
One of the criteria used in deciding whether your letter is even seen by your Representative or Senator is its length. Five-page, single-spaced letters almost never qualify for the member's attention. The best format is a regular business letter not exceeding two pages in length. The letter should be brief and to the point and should always include a request for action.
When writing a letter to your representative, the following elements should be included:
- Identify yourself as a constituent by including your home or work address in the Representative's district. Where appropriate, include a brief description of your organization or company. While this may seem obvious, it is surprising how many people forget to include critical information like name, address and telephone numbers. If your business is located in the member's district, be sure to make this clear. A little personal information is both necessary and welcome.
- Identify the issue and the bill (if applicable) that you are addressing.
- Support your position by including examples whenever possible. Describe the impact, both economic and emotional, of passage or defeat of legislation on you, your organization or your community.
- Personalize your letter as much as possible. Avoid using form letters.
- Make it short and to the point. Address only one issue in each letter. Be specific.
- Ask for support or action from the member. People often forget to ask the member to do something, or fail to describe what action should be taken (e.g. vote against the bill.) Remember: If you don't ask for anything, then you won't get anything. It is that simple.
Click here to view a sample letter.
For more information, contact the Government Relations staff.