Write Letters to Congress
Never underestimate the power of a constituent’s letter. A constituent’s letter can be very powerful and personal letters show that you really care about the issue.
We encourage you to contact your legislators at both their local offices and their offices in Washington, DC. Contact information for local offices can be located on members’ web sites, accessible through the below House and Senate portals.
Postal mail to the U.S. Congress has slowed down considerably after increased security. Please note the process for mail delivery to members of Congress. Correspondence:
- is inspected to ensure that the letter is sent from a constituent of the senator or representative;
- arrives at a processing unit in Virginia (2-4 days);
- is forwarded to Lima, Ohio, for irradiation procedures (10-14 days);
- is forwarded to another processing unit where all non-paper contents are removed and tested (7-10 days);
- is sorted and delivered to individual congressional offices, if it clears the 7- to 10-day waiting period for test results.
Therefore, we highly recommend that you fax or e-mail the letter. You can still mail a letter, if you wish, but you need more lead time for delivery.
Make Your Letter Effective
- Find your Congressional District and contact information.
- Keep your letter short. Be concise and limit your letter to one or two pages.
- Use the correct title, address, and salutation, and remember to use spell check after completing your letter.
The Honorable John Q. Smith
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington , DC 20010
Dear Representative Smith:
The Honorable John Q. Smith
Washington, DC 20010
Dear Senator Smith:
- Identify yourself. Let your legislator know that you are a constituent.
- Be polite. Like most of us, legislators will respond better to positive communication. Start by recognizing their support on specific pieces of legislation.
- Explain your position. Be clear and concise with regard to your position on the issue you address in your letter.
- Ask for a response. Be clear about what you would like your legislator to do and request a reply to your letter.
Topics of Correspondence and Sample Letters
- Regarding a Congressional Hearing—Please urge Congress to investigate the Pine Ridge “Reign of Terror,” misconduct against the American Indian Movement, and the wrongful conviction and illegal imprisonment of Leonard Peltier. Click here to view a sample letter.
- Regarding Clemency—Ask your Members of Congress to write to the White House to request a commutation of Leonard Peltier’s sentence. Click here for more information.
- Regarding FOIA Documents—The government must release all documents related to the Peltier case. These documents are over 25 years old and are considered historically significant. Further, they may contain information that may exonerate Leonard Peltier. Click here to view a sample letter regarding the release of such documents under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
- Regarding An Executive Review of the Case—On June 23, 1995, Amnesty International submitted a letter of concern about the Peltier case to the then U.S. Attorney General. There was no response. Ask your Members of Congress to write to Loretta Lynch to urge her to conduct an executive review of the case and to finally right the wrongs of the past. It’s never too late to find the truth, but justice delayed is justice denied. Click here for more information.
Try a Different Approach
Letters to the Editor
Communicating with your members of Congress is one of the most important ways you can participate in the legislative process and one highly effective way that you can expand your lobbying efforts is by writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. Letters-to-the-editor take no more time to write than e-mails to Congress and, by writing for a public forum, you can potentially influence both your legislators and many of the voters who elect them. You may find these tips helpful.
Locate contact information for your Members of Congress. Links to their Web sites will be included. Visit their sites and locate either the text links or social network icons for their social network pages and addresses.