Scheduling Your Visit
Below are helpful directions and pointers to schedule your congressional appointment(s):
- Call or email the congressional representative’s office. All offices may be reached by calling the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. (The operator will answer the call saying, “Capitol Switchboard;” the caller requests, “Will you please connect me to Senator/Representative ______’s office.”) You should do this at least one month prior to your intended visit.
- Once connected to the congressional representative’s office, request to speak with the scheduler or appointments’ secretary.
- Identify yourself as a constituent of the congressional representative and let the scheduler know that you will be visiting Washington, DC on June 7 and that you are seeking an appointment with the legislator.
- When setting up an appointment, ask for an appointment with the member of Congress. If your congressional representative is unable to meet with you, ask for an appointment with the staff person that handles the issues you wish to address. This might be the chief of staff, the legislative director or a legislative assistant. If you receive an appointment with a staff person, be sure to confirm the name and title of the staff person before thanking the scheduler and ending the call.
- If you are not successful in securing a meeting, follow-up with a phone call a few days later, and continue to contact the office until you secure a meeting time with the office.
- When making multiple appointments, it is important to keep in mind where offices are located. It is approximately a 20-25 minute walk from Senate office buildings to House office buildings.
- House office buildings are coded by a number; a meeting in a 3 digit room is in Cannon, a meeting in a 4 digit room beginning with a 1 is in Longworth; and a meeting in a 4 digit room beginning with a 2 is in Rayburn (for example, if you have a 2 p.m. meeting in Room 1233 and a 2:30 p.m. meeting in room 303, your first meeting is on the second floor of Longworth followed by a meeting on the third floor of Cannon. Click here to download a map of Capitol Hill including the Senate and House Office Buildings.
- If the office asks what issues you would like to discuss, tell them you would like to discuss issues relating to federal construction contracting and surety bonding, including preserving the Federal Miller Act and requiring bonds when the federal government provides federal credit assistance in the form of grants, loan guarantees, to finance Public-Private Partnership (P3) agreements. NASBP will provide attendees with leave-behind materials describing these issues succinctly. Please see sample meeting request letter here.
- Call to confirm your meeting two or three days beforehand.
- Please plan on arriving at least 15 minutes prior to your scheduled appointments, as you will be required to enter through security at each of the House/Senate Office buildings.
- Please remember to bring a government issued photo ID
Visit Dos and Don’ts
- Don't be disappointed. Even though your meeting is with the congressional representative, expect to meet with a member of his/her staff instead. Senators and Representatives rely heavily on the opinions of their staff when making decisions.
- Don’t expect to meet with the congressional representative or his/her staff for more than twenty to thirty minutes.
- Be flexible. Your meeting suddenly may take place in the hallway on the way to a vote or may be cancelled with no warning. Members' schedules are constantly changing, which may end up affecting your meeting.
- Be concise with your points. Refer to your one-page talking points that NASBP will provide as a reference.
- Do connect with your congressional members and their staff. Ask them to share their goals and the issues they care about. Try to find common ground between their priorities and yours.
- Don’t be argumentative. Do be polite and extend the courtesy you yourself would expect.
- Do thank your congressional representative. Thank them for supportive actions they have taken or simply for meeting with you.
- Be prepared to speak to opposing positions. Know opposing viewpoints, so that you can more effectively articulate and defend your points. If you don't know the answer to a question or how to respond to your Congressperson, tell him/her that you will get more information.
- Make specific, clear requests and ask for an answer. Your congressional representative ultimately works for you, and he/she needs to know specifically what you want, whether it is to sponsor a bill, vote a certain way, or speak with another Representative or Senator. In addition to your requests, don't be afraid to ask your congressional representative what he/she feels can be done for your issue.
- Do leave behind concise information, specifically the one-page talking points document (that NASBP will provide you). If you leave large amounts of reading material, your main message will get lost in the volume of paper. Put this information in a file folder with your organization's name on the label. Make sure that your website address and contact information are on every piece of correspondence that you leave or send to the office.
- Do follow-up after the meeting with a brief thank you note and any information that you agreed to furnish the congressional representative.