American Public Health Association
800 I Street, NW • Washington, DC 20001-3710
(202) 777-APHA • Fax: (202) 777-2534
comments@apha.org • http://www.apha.org

Hill Visits Do’s and Don’ts

The following resources will provide you with information on what to do and what not to do during a hill visit so that your time is spent most efficiently

Do:

  • Do learn members’ committee assignments and where their specialties lie.
  • Do present the need for what you’re asking the member of Congress to do. Use data or cases you know.
  • Do relate situations in his/her home state or district.
  • Do ask the Representative’s or Senator’s position and why.
  • Do — in case of voting records — ask why he/she voted a particular way.
  • Do show openness to the knowledge of counterarguments and respond to them.
  • Do admit you don’t know. Offer to try to find out the answer and send information back to the office.
  • Do spend time with members whose position is against yours. You can lessen the intensity of the opposition and perhaps change it.
  • Do spend time in developing relationships with Congressional staff.
  • Do thank them for stands the member has taken which you support.

Don't:

  • Don’t overload a Congressional visit with too many issues.
  • Don’t confront, threaten, pressure or beg.
  • Don’t be argumentative. Speak with calmness and commitment so as not to put him/her on the defensive.
  • Don’t overstate the case. Members are very busy, and you’re apt to lose their attention if you are too wordy.
  • Don’t expect members of Congress to be specialists. Their schedules and workloads tend to make them generalists.
  • Don’t be put off by smokescreens or long‐winded answers. Bring the members back to the point. Maintain control of the meetings.
  • Don’t make promises you can’t deliver.
  • Don’t be afraid to take a stand on the issues.
  • Don’t shy away from meetings with legislators with known views opposite your own.
  • Don’t be offended if a legislator is unable to meet and requests that you meet with his/her staff.