Understanding the Effects of Constituency on Persuading Congress

When you have an issue that you want to present before Congress, it is important that you first discuss it with the two senators from your state and the representative for your district. These 3 members of your congressional delegation have the largest stake in assisting you when you are a voting constituent, and it is imperative to their re-election efforts to look after the interests of their constituents. And their constituents include businesses and other organizations.

US Capitol Building
Creative Commons License photo credit: Hey Paul

In addition, your representatives will commonly sit on committees that can assist you with your issue. However, many organizations fail to speak to their representatives. As a result, they often experience poor results in their goals to persuade Congress regarding their particular issue because they must stand in line behind those organizations and individuals who speak to their representatives first.

Bear in mind that persuading Congress is a long-term process. Getting to know your congressional delegation and building a relationship with them is ongoing. And your congressional members want the same thing–they want to know key employers and organizations in their state and district.

In some cases it is possible that your local Congressional members either may not sit on a committee that can assist you or they may Persuading Congress, by Joseph Gibsonsimply be too junior to have much influence. Even if this is the case, this does not mean that they cannot assist you. Members of Congress build influence by assisting other members. Senior members of Congress naturally want to assist junior members for many different reasons. And members of Congress usually do not have difficulty getting other members to at least listen to them. In most cases, members will have a much easier time in getting the attention of other members outside your district than you will.

As a result, your representative may be able to speak to an influential member of Congress on your behalf when you would not be able to do so.

To learn more about persuading Congress, consider our course Strategies for Working with Congress: Effective Communication and Advocacy on Capitol Hill, and Capitol Hill Workshop.

Reference: Persuading Congress, by Joseph Gibson, Ch. 21 Constituency

Courses

Publications



Legislative Drafter’s Deskbook: A Practical Guide


Citizen’s Handbook to Influencing Elected Officials: Citizen Advocacy in State Legislatures and Congress: A Guide for Citizen Lobbyists and Grassroots Advocates


Testifying Before Congress


The Federal Budget Process: A description of the federal and congressional budget processes, including timelines

CongressionalGlossary.com, from TheCapitol.Net






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