The centerpiece of #NENAGTW, Hill visits are your chance to interact directly with the representatives and staff members who make and influence federal telecommunications policy. Your relationships with members of Congress and congressional staff are crucial to advancing and protecting public safety interests on the Hill and with regulatory bodies and executive-branch agencies as well. Visiting your members’ offices here in Washington allows you to connect in ways that simply aren’t possible back home.
A face-to-face conversation with your Representative or Senators can have a profound impact on their understanding of 9-1-1. A handshake and a meeting are far more memorable than the thousands of pieces of mail member of Congress gets every day. And just as important are meetings with a member’s staff — staff are the folks who roll up their sleeves and do the hard work of drafting legislation, forging coalitions, and passing laws. They’re also the people who will give you a phone call when they have a question about 9-1-1 — and who will pick up the phone when you call in the future!
Here are the easiest ways to set up a meeting:
Request a meeting online.
Most members’ websites feature a “Request a Meeting” form that you can fill out online. Alternatively, they offer an email address for the office scheduler. Before you call the office directly, fill out and submit this form or send an email request to meet during #NENAGTW on February 12th or 13th. If you send an email, make sure it contains the following:
- Your name and address
- The issues you want to discuss
- The dates you’ll be in Washington to meet
Dear [Senator or Congressman/woman][Last name],
As a member of NENA: The 9-1-1 Association, I am writing to request a meeting with you and your aides to discuss several issues that affect 9-1-1 and public safety communications.
I will be in Washington on February 12-13 for our annual 9-1-1 Goes to Washington event and would welcome the opportunity to speak with you about these issues. I can be reached at the phone numbers listed below; I look forward to hearing from you regarding a time we can meet. Thank you for your consideration.
[YOUR PSAP OR ORGANIZATION]
[YOUR PSAP OR HOME ADDRESS (whichever is in the legislator’s district)]
M: [YOUR MOBILE PHONE]
O: [YOUR OFFICE PHONE]
H: [YOUR HOME PHONE]
If you don’t receive confirmation of your meeting, follow up your request with a phone call. Ask to confirm that your request was received and whether the legislator has time to meet with you on the 12th or 13th. If only a staffer is available to meet, that’s fine! Staffers are often assigned to a specific subject matter (like public safety telecommunications, for instance) and are thus better-equipped to hear your message than their bosses. The following script can help guide your conversation.
YOU: Hello, my name is [YOUR NAME] and I live in [CITY/TOWN]. I’m going to be in Washington with my organization, NENA, and would like to meet with Congressman/Senator [NAME] regarding issues important to 9-1-1 and public safety. Is Congressman/Senator [NAME] available to meet on [DATE]?
OFFICE: I’m sorry, the Congressman/Senator isn’t available on those dates.
YOU: Can I speak with a staffer during those dates? I would appreciate the chance to meet face-to-face while I’m in town.
Write down the date, time, and person you spoke with. If you haven’t heard back in a few days, call again to follow up. Be polite but persistent!
Confirm your appointment.
The day before your appointment, call to confirm. The office might request a list of those attending the meeting, if there are attendees other than yourself.
Follow up your meeting with a thank-you.
After your meeting, be sure to send a thank-you letter to your lawmaker and/or your lawmaker’s staff. Thank them for taking the time to meet with you and re-iterate the asks you made in your meeting.
You can contact Dan Henry, NENA’s Government Affairs Director, at email@example.com or 202.618.4392 to get contact information for your Representative or Senators' staffers who handle public safety or telecommunications issues.