Many leaders host a weekly “Coffee with Constituents” event at their D.C. office. If you are heading to D.C. this is a great op to meet your leader and ask them to support a key bill. To find out if your leaders do a coffee event, call their D.C. offices. Some leaders also host similar events in their district offices, so check with your local offices as well.
What to Expect?
1. Arrive at the Congressional leaders office early. Oftentimes, the entire staff is present and you can visit with the Chief of Staff, Legislative Director, Foreign Policy LA and other key staffers.
2. Wait for the leader to arrive. You’ll be in a room full of nervous people from your district. These will range from family’s on vacation to farmers to people representing business interest.
3. The leader will arrive and say a few words. You’ll either be sitting in conference table and have an opportunity to ask a question or the leader will work the room and visit with people. The minute you have an op to ask the leader a question, take it! Typically, everyone in the room starts out nervous and not asking questions, but toward the end of the session it will be impossible to get a word in and the leader dart off to a meeting.
4. Photo op. Many offices have staffers present who will take your photo with the leaders and mail you print. Take advantage of this! It gives you another op to mention global poverty or a key bill while you’re posing with the leader.
Tip: When the leader asks for questions, be the first to raise your hand. It will get progressively harder to ask a question as more and more people start raising their hands.
Good Questions to Ask Your Leader
Ideally, ask them to support a specific bill, but broadly conveying your support for the issues is very import as a well. Try one of these questions or come up with your own
1. “I have a question about job creation in the United States. As poverty-rates have dropped globally it’s created millions of new consumers and U.S. companies have really benefited. You’re probably aware that the U.S. Chamber of the Commerce and many of the top U.S. companies have all called on Congress to increase the international affairs budget. Are you with the business community in doing this?”
2. “I’m in agreement with U.S. military leaders in thinking that Congress should better fund international aid programs because it helps bring stability and weaken the influence of the bad guys. What are you doing to increase USAID’s budget?”
3. “I’m one of those patriotic American’s who thinks the United States should be leading the world in helping the poor. Unfortunately, we’re usually ranked second to last among wealthy nations in per capita giving to the world’s poor. What are you going to do to restore American leadership on this issue?”
4. “Global poverty… I don’t like it… A heck of a lot more can be done to address it. I’d like to know what legislation you’ve supported that helps improve conditions for the world’s poor.”