WASHINGTON, D.C — Article I, Section 1 of the Constitution grants legislative powers to the Congress of the United States, which consists of a Senate and House of Representatives. The House of Representatives has 435 members, and the Senate has 100 members.
To obtain a seat in Congress, all members must be voted in by the people. Each state elects two senators to the Senate and at least one representative to the House of Representatives. The number of representatives a state can elect is determined by its population. For example, Alaska and North Dakota have only one representative, while the state of California has 53.
The process to contact Congress is simple. Although Congress is in Washington, D.C., legislators have offices in their home districts. Contacting a congressman or congresswoman at their local office is the most effective method of establishing communication.
If a citizen is unfamiliar with whom their state representative is, they can find out by going the United States House of Representatives website. They will be able to enter their zip code and locate their representative. The same is true of the United States Senate; citizens can select their state from a drop box selection to locate their senator. Once their congressperson is determined, citizens will be able to view how long their term is.
When contacting a member of Congress, it is important to identify yourself as a constituent who can vote for them. There are various ways to contact Congress: in person, by phone, by mail or social media.
- Mail: When writing a letter it is important to address it specifically to who represents you. You are to address the letter as Dear Representative or Senator and include their last name.
- Email: Email can be found as a rather aimless task when one is trying to contact congress. Congresspersons are busy people and they receive numerous emails a day; so, there is a high probability that your email may fall to the bottom their inbox.
- Face to face: In an era when electronic communications can be overwhelming, face-to-face meetings with legislators add value to the advocacy process. Your legislators want to hear from you, their constituent, about the important issues facing their area.
As aforementioned, Congress takes several breaks throughout the year in which they work out of their local offices rather than on Capitol Hill. Though these times may vary, members are frequently at home in August and around holidays.
A legislator’s local office can be found on their individual website at United States House of Representatives or the United States Senate. Citizens will be able to find contact information for their representative or senator. They can also get information on upcoming district meetings. You will need to submit your meeting request in writing, even if you speak to someone in the legislator’s office.
Since its inception in 1789, the legislative branch has had the power to create laws, declare war, approve or deny presidential appointments, and seek the truth. Citizens should not be afraid to contact Congress since they are the ones who give it its power.
– Needum Lekia