Every Member of Congress has at least one state/district office, and many Members have several spread through their district or state. These are public offices, open for anybody to visit — you don’t need an appointment. You can take advantage of this to stage an impromptu town hall meeting by showing up with a small group. It is much harder for district or DC staff to turn away a group than a single constituent, even without an appointment.
Tips for office visits
- Find out where your Senators’ and Representative’s local offices are. The official website for your Member will list the address of every local office. You can find links to your Members’ websites on our Resources page.
- Plan a trip when the Member of Congress is there. Most Member state/district offices are open only during regular business hours, 9am-5pm. While Members spend a fair amount of time in Washington, they are often “in district” on Mondays and Fridays, and there are weeks designated for Members to work in district. You can find weekly and annual House and Senate Calendars and Schedules on Congress.gov.
- The Member is most likely to be at the “main” office — the office in the largest city in the district, and where the Member’s district director works. Ideally, plan a time when you and several other people can show up together.
- Prepare a list of several questions ahead of time.
- Politely, but firmly, ask to meet with the Member of Congress directly. Staff will ask you to leave or at best “offer to take down your concerns.” Don’t settle for that. You want to speak with the Member directly. If they are not in, ask when they will next be in. If the staffer doesn’t know, tell them you will wait until they find out. Sit politely in the lobby. Note, on any given weekend, the Member may or may not actually come to that district office.
- Note that office sit-ins can backfire, so be very thoughtful about the optics of your visit. This tactic works best when you are protesting an issue that directly affects you and/or members of your group (e.g., seniors and caregivers on Medicare cuts, or Muslims and allies protesting a Muslim registry). Being polite and respectful throughout is critical.
- Meet with the staffer. Even if you are able to get a one-off meeting with the Member of Congress, you are most often going to be meeting with their staff. In district, the best person to meet with is the district director, or the head of the local district office you’re visiting. There are real advantages to building a relationship with these staff. In some cases, they may be more open to progressive ideas than the Member, and having a good meeting with/building a relationship with a supportive staff member can be a good way to move your issue up the chain of command. Follow these steps for a good staff meeting:
- Have a specific “ask,” e.g., vote against X, cosponsor Y, publicly state Z.
- Leave staff with a brief write-up of your issue, with your ask clearly stated.
- Share a personal story of how you or someone in your group is personally impacted by the specific issue (health care, immigration, Medicare, etc.).
- Be polite. Yelling at the underpaid, overworked staffer won’t help your cause.
- Be persistent. Get their business card and call/email them regularly; ask if the Member has taken action on the issue.
- Advertise what you’re doing. Communicate on social media, and tell the local reporters you follow what is happening. Take and send pictures and videos with your group: “At Senator X’s office with 10 other constituents to talk to him about __________. He refuses to meet with us and staff won’t tell us when he will come out. We’re waiting.”
To find other group meetings or actions in your area are, see the Indivisible Guide search by zip code page.