Call your legislator

Step 1: Identify your members of Congress

The phone numbers for your senators and representatives are available on their websites. You also can call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121.

Step 2: Prepare your message

Draft what you plan to say. Include your name and that you are a constituent. Keep your message concise and mention your key points before providing any relevant background data.

Step 3: Relay your message

Calls usually are taken by staff members, not members of Congress. Ask to speak with the legislative aide who handles the issue about which you wish to comment. After identifying yourself, tell the aide that you would like to leave a message.

Sample call with a congressional office

Staffer:  Hello. Senator (Last Name)’s office.

You: Hi, this is (Your Name), and I live in (Your City). I am a constituent of the senator, and I’d like to speak to the staffer who works on NIH funding.

Staffer: Hold on, please, while I check if that person is available. (pause) I’m sorry, our health legislative assistant isn’t available right now. Can I take a message?

You: Yes, I’m calling about the fiscal year 2020 Labor, Health and Human Services appropriations bill. I know the senator is on that committee, and, as a biochemist at (Institution/Company Name), I would like the senator to make sure that the NIH receives at least $36 billion. I would also like the senator to support regular funding increases for the NIH with the goal of $XX billion. The researchers supported by the NIH need predictable, sustained funding. My colleagues and I are doing research on [insert your research here] that could affect the health and healthcare spending of thousands in our state. It is important to maintain adequate support for the NIH so that we can continue our work.

Staffer: Thanks for your message. Can I get your full name, address, and telephone number?

You: (Your Full Name), (your address). (Phone number).

Staffer: Thank you. I will pass along your message to the senator.

You: Thank you.

Other toolkit topics

Do’s and don’ts for communicating with legislators

Dos and donts for communicating with legislators

Helpful tips to make your meetings effective.

Meet with your legislators in person

Communicating directly with your elected officials is an important way to make your voice heard.

Download the guide to advocating for science

Prepare a lab tour for your legislators

Hosting a member of Congress at your institution is an excellent way to demonstrate the importance of federal funding for scientific research.

Write a letter to the editor

A letter to the editor of your local newspaper can be very effective at increasing public awareness of an issue important to your community.

Write a letter to your legislator

A letter or email is the most popular choice of communication with a congressional office.