Grassroots Mobilization: the Key to FMA's Legislative Operation
As we begin the 115th congress, the congressional leadership has stacked their legislative agenda with both domestic and foreign priorities including tackling the growing budget deficit. FMA members are in a position to have significant influence on their Members of Congress, and the Association needs to maintain a strong presence and demonstrate its ability to mobilize on issues of importance to ensure our legislative agenda is met.
In the 112th Congress, FMA testified before Congress on multiple occasions and submitted written testimony for the record covering several topics of importance to the Association. Members from across the country testified on issues ranging from the necessity of labor-management forums throughout the federal government to the necessity of reform and modernization of the Hatch Act
This FMA website contains timely legislative news, including the bi-weekly Washington Report, letters from the National President, FMA congressional testimony, issue papers and press releases. Most notably, FMA action letters are conveniently available in the Legislative Action Center. Action letters are form letters generated by the Government Affairs staff explaining FMA’s positions on key issues; we encourage FMA members to tailor these letters to express an even stronger message to their respective Members of Congress.
Moreover, should you need to locate your respective Senators and/or Representative, simply click here to find the correct Washington, D.C. office addresses of your lawmakers.
PERSONAL VISITS WITH MEMBERS OF CONGRESS
FMA’S ANNUAL DAY ON THE HILL
FMA’s annual Day on the Hill usually takes place in the springtime during the FMA National Convention. It is an excellent opportunity to meet your Senators, Representatives and their staff. It is also the critical kick-start to FMA’s year-long effort to achieve its legislative goals.
Here are some basic tips for making your Capitol Hill visit a success:
- Coordinate with your Region Director to determine which Members of Congress you should visit. This should be done in December or January.
- Write the Washington, D.C. office of the Members you wish to visit to the attention of the Member’s scheduler. Follow-up your written request with a phone call no later than mid-February. The name and address for Representatives can be found at www.house.gov. The name and address for Senators can be found at www.senate.gov. Even after receiving initial confirmation from the appointment schedulers, you should call them the week before your meeting to confirm that you are still scheduled to meet with Members of Congress and/or their staff.
- Try to visit “friends” as well as “foes.” While it is important to connect with those who support FMA, this is good opportunity to educate those who historically oppose the federal workforce.
- Do your homework. Before the Day on the Hill, make sure you know the issues. You should also know your Representative’s and Senators’ committee assignments, federal employee constituency, FMA-PAC donations, cosponsorship of FMA’s top legislative priorities and margin of victory in last election.
- Divide up into teams of two to four individuals to conduct the visits. Rehearse your presentations with your team before your visits.
- Always be factual. Support assertions with facts from the issue briefs and personal anecdotes.
- Project a positive image and be respectful. Remember: conversational, not confrontational.
- Politely and persistently seek to get a definitive answer on whether or not the Member intends to cosponsor legislation favored by FMA. Ask what further information they may require in order to make a decision.
- Write a thank-you note and follow up with phone calls to staff to make sure promised action is taken.
DISTRICT OFFICE AND TOWN HALL MEETINGS
Meeting with your Members of Congress in their district offices when they are home on recess and at local town hall meetings is an excellent way to stay in touch. The more face time you have with your Members of Congress, the more likely they are to recognize you and be sympathetic to your concerns. FMA encourages you to also invite Members of Congress to your field office, providing an inside look on what federal managers do on a daily basis.
INVITING MEMBERS OF CONGRESS TO TOUR YOUR FACILITY
- One of the best ways to promote a good working relationship with your Members of Congress is to invite them to speak to your chapter. Members are always looking for venues to reach out to their constituents and hear their voices. They would welcome the opportunity to share their views and listen to yours.
- This is a quick and easy checklist on how to set up a successful congressional visit to your chapter:
- Find out when your Senators or Representative will be in the state/district. Many Members are in the district from Friday to Monday. They also are back for longer periods during holidays and legislative recesses.
- Call at least a month ahead of time to arrange the date and time. If you have an existing relationship with the district office, call there first. If not, you may want to call directly to the Washington office and ask to speak to the Member’s scheduler.
- Send a confirmation letter as soon as the details of the visit are set up.
- Inform top management of the visit and invite them to the meeting. If a luncheon or dinner is planned, place them at the head table.
- Arrange for a tour of the facility if the lawmaker’s schedule permits.
- Publicize the event widely and encourage a healthy turnout from your membership.
- Notify the facility public information office and contact the local media at least 3-4 days in advance.
- Make arrangements for a photographer to attend the event.
- During the meeting, have the LAT members introduced along with chapter officers, if it’s not too unwieldy.
- As always, send a nice thank-you note, and possibly a photograph, to the visiting representative.