Congress at Home
What is Congress at Home and why is it important to meet with my senators and representative?
When members of Congress aren't in Washington, D.C., they want to meet with constituents back home and hear from voters. This gives you and other Diabetes Advocates a chance to talk about diabetes and the critical need to support legislation to fund research, support health care and affordable insulin, and much more.
Face-to-face meetings are the most effective way to make a difference in how lawmakers understand diabetes legislation. As a constituent, your voice is taken seriously – you're the reason they’re in office!
Look for congressional recess periods to set up meetings—it’s when your legislators will be at home. You can see the Senate schedule here and the House of Representatives schedule here.
Sign up to participate in Congress at Home meetings here.
Setting Up Congress at Home Meetings
Constituent meetings give you a chance to educate members of Congress and urge them to support people affected by diabetes: by voting for diabetes research funding, insulin affordability and access to affordable health care. For a more detailed checklist about meeting setup, please click here.
Set Up Your Meeting
- Send a meeting request to your representative and senators.
Find the scheduling email by going to your members’ congressional websites, or simply call their office and ask for the scheduler’s email address.
Your meetings with members of Congress can take many forms—town halls, community events, July Fourth Parades, and more by clicking here for more ideas on where to hold congressional meetings at home! What’s important is for your elected officials to hear from you and to understand why they should support people with diabetes!
- Follow Up!
Be politely persistent! If a scheduler or staff member has not responded after 3 or 4 days, call them and ask for an update, and if there’s any additional info you can provide.
Preparing for the meeting
Once you notify us that your meeting is scheduled, we’ll send you an electronic meeting kit. This kit will include everything you need to prepare for and hold your meeting. You will get: "A What Do I Talk About?" document, fact sheets for our key issues, and documents for printing and leaving behind with your congressional office. Your prep is a simple 3 steps.
- Review and print the electronic meeting kit materials:
Leave Behind Documents - Print and provide to your members of Congress:
- Recruit others to join you in your meeting. Think of friends and family affected by diabetes and ask them to attend.
- Coordinate talking points with other meeting participants.
Documents for printing and sharing with your members of Congress are listed at the bottom of this page
- What Can I Talk About? – Includes talking points for all of our current federal asks (pdf)
- Federal funding talking Points (pdf)
- Health insurance talking Points (pdf)
- Insulin affordability talking points (pdf)
After the Meeting
- Send a thank you letter for the meeting reiterating the key asks, and referencing specific discussion points.
- If you were in touch with the scheduler, email this person directly to thank them for their help in setting up the meeting.
- And most importantly: Let ADA staff know about your meeting by filling out the short form at diabetes.org/reportit. This is CRITICAL as it allows ADA to take next steps.
Meeting During an Election Year
Remember that it is important that you do not engage in partisan politics in ANY way while you are representing the ADA.
- Set the meeting at the member's congressional office–not the campaign office. The congressional office website URL and email addresses will end in "house.gov" or "senate.gov"
- When taking photos with the member of Congress: make sure that no campaign signs, buttons or slogans are visible in the photo.
Enhancing Chances of Getting a Meeting
Being flexible on date and location of your meeting as it greatly increases the likelihood that your member of Congress will schedule a meeting with you. Start by asking about the member’s schedule, including both time in the office, and time at public events. Be creative about the type of meeting you’re willing to attend or arrange. Our tip sheet has a few suggestions, but feel free to come up with your own ideas!
If none of the options on our tip sheet work for you, you can still participate in Congress at Home! Many advocates have had great meetings as a result of unscheduled drop off visits where they drop-off the materials we've provided. You can simply:
- Print leave behind materials.
- Head to your member of Congress' office closest to your community and ask whether you can meet with the member or a staffer. Saying you’re willing to wait, often pays off!
- If no one is available for a meeting, leave a short personal note that includes your contact information with the leave behind materials.
What’s Next – Keeping up the Drumbeat!
Follow up matters. It extends the interaction with your member’s office and can amplify the messages delivered in your visit. Be creative in thinking of ways to make your follow-up as public as possible, in a way that is visible to your member’s office.
- Use your own social media channels to post photos from your meeting, tag your member on key votes, or as a random throwback Thursday post – even weeks or months after your meeting.
- Follow and regularly monitor members’ social media accounts; watch for opportunities for other face-to-face encounters.
- Submit a letter to the editor or Op Ed to raise awareness about one of our issues, and referencing recent meetings with your members. For assistance, email: email@example.com.
Congress at Home Training Resources:
- Audio Recording: June 27, 2018 Webinar: Take Advantage of Your Opportunity to Raise Voice at Home!