Congressional Meeting Sample Agenda
Your goal is to engage your Congressional representative or staff in a dialogue on our common goal of a less violent, more peaceful world. This means that regardless of their position on Iraq, military spending, Iran, etc., our issues are relevant to them. It’s important to read their website and find common goals and values so you can connect with them. The dream of peace is in all of us at every moment. Clarify with your team that no matter what your MOC or their staff says, they are your allies and partners. We are all engaging in the same inquiry, “How can we reduce violence?” Community leaders — church leaders, heads of organizations, police or fire department chiefs, domestic violence shelter directors, etc. — are particularly good allies to bring to these meetings, although any voter in the district is important. Before your meeting, members of your team should establish goals, speaking parts and a timeline; each person should rehearse with another one or two people to get coaching on their presentation. Appoint one person as host of the meeting to keep everyone on track. Plan on making your case in fifteen minutes max. You may get more time, so be prepared with additional material, but it’s best to be brief and passionate. Each speaker should focus on one area of the bill and spend no more than two minutes. This will allow everyone to participate. Be sure to begin each meeting by thanking the member for meeting with you and for having taken a position or stand that you support. This will set a positive tone. Tell them you have prepared a short presentation for him/her. Introduce yourselves VERY briefly. (Name, city of residence, occupation is enough. Make yourselves real and open. Saying, “I am a teacher and mother of a ten-month-old baby,” is a good opening, so is “I’m a truck driver and grandpa,” etc.) At the end of the meeting, ask for his or her support for the bill. Review the “request” ideas listed below, and ask them for their own ideas as well. Ask them what they would be willing to do to help you. Be specific. “Would you review this with your boss, and ask them if they will speak at a public event in [Hometown USA]? When should I check back with you on this?”
I. Thank you/ Introductions – 5-6 minutes
a. Thank them for the meeting, and if possible something the Member of Congress has done that you appreciate. b. Ask a question that will allow the Member/aide to introduce themselves more fully to you: (Helps establish a real connection).
1) e.g., what brought you to Congress? What was your vision for entering politics?
II. Introduction to the Legislation/Issue – 2-3 minutes
(Basic background/ overview of the purpose of the bill you are bringing forward.
III. Issues 5-6 minutes
(Use talking points along with some facts from our “Statistics on Violence” and examples of programs that make a difference.)
a. Become a co-sponsor of legislation? b. Attend the briefing on the bill scheduled for____________? c. What else do you or your staff think you could do to help us get this legislation enacted? d. Write a letter to your colleagues? To the committee chairs that the bill has been referred to? e. Speak at a public event within the district? f. Write an op-ed for local newspaper, offer to draft something for them?
a. Set up necessary follow-up with contact info and expected response times. b. Thank them for their time and attention.
Follow up is KEY to success. You must follow up promptly and cheerfully. Be persistent at each task and thank them for every bit of effort they invest in helping you, even just reading the bill.
Attend local Town Hall meetings that your representative holds throughout the year to raise the subject of the Youth PROMISE Act, International Peacebuilding budget items, and/or the Department of Peacebuilding and its functions. Please attend as many of the local meetings as possible and bring friends.
If Your Representative is already a co-sponsor
It is still critical that you work with co-sponsors. Here are a few things you can work with them on:
Ask them if they would be willing to talk to with other colleagues in the House or Senate to co-sponsor a bill with them.
Ask them to contact the key committee chairs from the committee that a bill is in for the current cycle: Ask them to write letters to the Chairmen and women of the committees to which the bill has been referred and request that the committee either pass the bill to the floor for a vote or host a hearing on the bill. Offer to bring speakers to the hearing.
Ask them to speak at a public event, or appear on a radio show about the bill with one of the local team.
Ask them to take a bill to any caucuses where they are members to ask for support from fellow members.
Send a letter to the Editor of your local newspaper, thanking your Rep for co-sponsoring the bill. MOC appreciate public praise for what they have done and rarely get it.