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Cheat Sheet

Congress For Dummies

From Congress For Dummies by David Silverberg, Dennis Hastert (Foreword by), Tom Daschel (Foreword by)

If you’re planning a trip to Washington, D.C., follow some basic recommendations for protocol when visiting with a member of Congress or a White House staffer. Plan your trip to the Capitol Building around Congressional recesses, and be sure to have all the correct contact information for the House of Representatives and Senate to make travel easier and quicker.

Tips for Visiting a Member or Staffer of Congress

If you’re trying to meet with your Senator or Representative to lobby for a cause, these tips can help you prepare for your trip to Capitol Hill (or to your local government offices) and make a lasting first impression:

  • Be prompt, brief, and concise.

  • Know your goals.

  • Prepare the ground.

  • Do your homework.

  • Be courteous and calm.

  • Know your facts.

  • Offer assistance.

  • Provide data on the cost and economic impact of your proposal if you can.

  • Provide helpful written material and offer to answer any questions.

  • Always follow up with a call, e-mail, or note.

When Are the Congressional Recesses?

A congressional recess is a time when congress isn’t meeting but will meet again. The recesses usually fall around a major holiday (usually lasting a week or two) and the month of August. Check your current year’s calendar for exact dates of recesses:

  • Presidents Day: February

  • Passover/Easter: March or April

  • Memorial Day: Last week of May

  • Independence Day: First week of July

  • August: Full month until Labor Day in September

  • First Thursday in October: Target adjournment

House of Representatives Contact Information

You can gather information about your representative from his or her Web site, but if you need to contact another member or staffer of the House of Representatives, try the email formula below. Of course, you can always call or go the old-fashioned way and mail a letter. Here’s the House contact information you'll need:

  • The House of Representatives Web site:

  • Clerk of the House:

  • House e-mail addresses consist of the person’s first name and last name, separated by a dot, followed by (Be aware that some people use nicknames and middle initials.)

Congressional database

Capitol switchboard (House and Senate)

  • 202-224-3121

Mailing address

  • Rep. __________

  • United States House of Representatives

  • Washington, DC 20510

House offices

  • The Capitol (H)

  • Cannon (CHOB), 1st St. & Independence Ave. SE, three-digit room numbers, the first digit is the floor number

  • Longworth (LHOB), Independence Ave. & New Jersey Ave. SE, four-digit room numbers starting with 1, the second digit is the floor number.

  • Rayburn (RHOB), Independence Ave. & S. Capitol St. SW, four-digit room numbers starting with 2. In Rayburn, the second digit is the floor number.

All of the buildings have maps to help you find individual office numbers. In Rayburn there are several subcommittee offices on the “B” level (where the cafeteria is also located).

How to Contact Your U.S. Senator

If you need to contact your Senator or a Senate staffer, use the following information, which provides a variety of options, including phone, e-mail, address, and location of Senate offices:

  • The Senate Web site:

  • Senate e-mail addresses consist of the person’s first name and last name, separated by a dot, followed by @[last name of senator]

Congressional database

Capitol switchboard (House and Senate)

  • 202-224-3121

Mailing address

  • Sen. __________

  • United States Senate

  • Washington, DC 20515

Senate offices have conventional room numbers; the first digit of the room number is the floor number.

  • The Capitol (S)

  • Russell (SR) 1st St. and Constitution Ave. NE (East Corner)

  • Dirksen (SD) 1st St. and Constitution Ave. NE (West corner)

  • Hart (SH) 2nd and C Streets NE

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