WASHINGTON, D.C.— On June 30, I met with a staffer of Senator Gillibrand’s Washington, D.C. office to discuss the Energize Africa Act, the Food For Peace Reform Act and the importance of the International Affairs Budget. Here are some tips from Senator Gillibrand’s staffer on how to best inform congressional staffers on poverty legislation in a short amount of time.
1. Get to know them
Start off the meeting by introducing yourself and asking what areas the staffers are involved in. For example, Senator Gillibrand’s staffer worked for the Defense Intelligence Agency so I focused on how fighting global poverty is important in protecting our national security.
2. Research the senator or representative
Look into what areas the senator or representative voted yes or no on. Find out what legislation they are less likely to cosponsor and focus educating the staffer on those areas. I found that Senator Gillibrand generally supports a strong international affairs budget and that her office is reviewing the Food for Peace Reform Act, so I focused more on the Energize Africa Act since they had not yet reviewed it.
3. Hit the high points
Be clear and concise when introducing poverty legislation. Target key points of the legislation. When talking about the Food for Peace Reform Act, I emphasized the three problems with the current food aid legislation and discussed how those problems could be resolved with the reformed act. Bring in background information on the legislation and explain how it would benefit the United States. For example, when introducing the Energize Africa Act, I highlighted how supporting affordable electricity in sub-Saharan Africa could lead to economic growth and job creation, while saving taxpayers $86 million over the next 5 years.
4. Ask how the senator or representative may respond to the proposed legislation
Ask the staffer if they know how the senator or representative will respond to the poverty-reducing legislation. It will give a good presentation on how effective your case is for the legislation. If they are unsure that the senator or representative will support legislation, go back, emphasize key points and clarify any questions the staffer may have.
5. Prepare, prepare, prepare
Know your facts! State specifics on why it is important to reduce poverty. Bring in quotes from politicians. Present statistics on the successes of poverty alleviation. Present the staffers with letters from military and business leaders on the importance of reducing poverty. And overall, be passionate about the chance to reduce poverty worldwide.
– Colleen Moore
Sources: Interview with Staffer of Senator Gillibrand’s Office