Each new Congress presents a fresh opportunity to make progress on issues your agency and communities care about. The incoming 116th Congress is the most diverse in history with over 120 women, over 120 people of color, and 34 Jewish members were sworn in on January 3, 2019. The best time to begin forming new relationships and strengthening old ones is now. This month, introduce yourself and your organization to new Members of Congress, and reach out to returning ones. Here are a few tips to ensure your efforts have maximum impact:
Simplify: Members of Congress (and their staff) are busy. Keep your pitch short and to the point. Focus on the particular issue(s) you want to talk to them about, and do not bring up other, unrelated topics. Always make time to listen to their point of view.
Specify: Have a particular bill or program in mind for your meeting. Use NJHSA’s Public Policy Priorities as a guide (the 2019 priorities will be posted soon). You should have a clear and concrete request, “Can we count on you to co-sponsor H.R. ___, the Increase Medicare Funding Act?” not “We would like your office to support increased funding for social safety net programs.”
Educate: Invite Members of Congress to your agency to see how you work impacts the district and constituents. Show them the direct connection between the policies you support and the day-to-day work of your agency.
Cultivate: Remember to thank the Member or their staff for their time, and follow up in the subsequent days and weeks. The best relationships are ongoing relationships; the more you keep in touch with a member, the more likely they are to work with you on the issues you care about.
NJHSA is here to help in any way we can. We can provide talking points and advice on best practices for agency advocacy and engagement. For more information, please contact Reuben Rotman.