Basics for your Hill visit
Show up 5 minutes early and expect 15-30 minutes for your visit. Your meeting may start late. Senate and House buildings are far apart so plan for travel time and also to get through security.
Dress for a business meeting. Your attire will be noticed if it is not business dress.
Most likely you will meet with a staff person, and not the congressional member. This may be disappointing but is normal. Congressional staff members work either for a committee or in a member's personal office; you might meet with one of these staffers in the personal office:
- Chief of Staff (CoS): The top-ranking staff person and the one who is closest to the member; coordinates and supervises entire staff. You will probably not meet the CoS.
- Legislative Director (LD): Manages the legislative staff and develops legislative strategy for the office. May have their own issue portfolio as well as coordinating those of the legislative assistants. You will probably not meet the LD.
- Legislative Assistant (LA): An area specialist who has a list of issues they handle for the office, usually related in some way under headings like Education or Immigration. The mid-level person most in the weeds on the topics. You may well meet an LA.
- Legislative Correspondent (LC): An entry-level person in the office who mainly deals with constituent requests and communications. Typically in their 20s, don't be surprised by this. Though they might strike you as inexperienced, many LCs go on to higher positions in an office, so treat them with respect. You may well meet an LC.
- Legislative Fellow: Serves as a subject-matter expert and works in parity with an LA. The AMS Congressional Fellow is an example. Not all offices have fellows. You may well meet a fellow.
Tips for your visit
- Please contact your university Government Relations office, if you have one. It is polite to tell them you are making Hill visits. They may want to know what you plan to discuss.
- Research the member and their positions. Find out their committee assignments and support for relevant legislation.
- Research the staff member(s) you will meet. Maybe they were a student at your university; this is good to know in advance, to make a personal connection.
- Elected members love personal connections with constituents, so tell them what school you work at, and about any other connections you have to them. Tell a story. Members use personal anecdotes in speeches; LAs and LCs will pay attention for sound bites you offer.
- Be concise. Prepare a short presentation with a short, clear list of talking points. Each person should say something. The AMS Office of Government Relations will help you prepare.
- While you do not want to be too political, it is appropriate to thank the member for their previous work on our issues, including sponsoring/cosponsoring legislation.
- Offer to serve as a resource and invite the member to visit your campus.
After your visit
Be sure to send a thank you note after your visit! Reiterate your main points, and any asks, remind them that you are willing to serve as a resource, and extend formal invitations (to visit your department, campus, conferences, etc.).
Feel free to reach out to AMS Government Relations Director Karen Saxe if you would like help preparing for such a visit. This page is designed for visiting your congressional delegation in Washington, D.C., but can also serve as a resource for in-district visits.