How to Write a Letter to Congress (LTC)
Why Write a Letter to a Congressman/woman?
Have you ever watched the news only to be frustrated with something your Senator said during an interview? After a little research, you find out that your Senator has co-sponsored a bill supporting his stance during the interview. Maybe you were scrolling social media one night and discovered your Congresswoman supports a new bill that allows unrestricted illegal immigration to your state. Additionally, she proposed increasing state taxes to cover accruing expenses related to the new state programs for illegal immigrants.
Both situations present an excellent opportunity to express your voice to your elected official. LTCs can be written to federal, state, and even local representatives. You are the constituent. Elected representatives serve to represent your interests. Even if a representative does not share all the same perspectives as you on every issue, writing to your representative allows you to exercise your Constitutional right to voice your opinion.
Before committing to pen and paper, or opening your laptop to type, determine your topic. Pick a very clear subject and stick to that one subject throughout the letter. Note that a letter may be affirmative as well as adversarial in nature.
Sample topics for your LTC:
Supporting or opposing a piece of legislation that is up for a vote
Urging your representative to co-sponsor a bill that has been introduced
Proposing an idea for a bill to your representative
Advocating for approval of a Presidential nomination
Contending a local statute or ordinance
Here are some helpful tips to maximize your letter’s effectiveness:
State the purpose of your letter in the first paragraph.
If your letter pertains to a specific piece of legislation, identify it accordingly.
Examples: House bill: H.R.1865; Senate bill: S2059.
Be courteous, specific, and concise
Support your opinion with persuasive information such as stats, surveys, or accurate examples
Address only one issue in each letter and, if possible, keep the letter to one page.
Sample of an LTC
Referencing back to the second example above, this sample LTC addresses a constituent, Lucy Lu, who discovered a new bill her Congresswoman, Jane Edwards, presented to the State of Louisiana regarding unrestricted illegal immigration.
While there are several parts of the bill that Lucy disagrees with, she picked one aspect of the bill to focus on in her letter to Congresswoman Edwards – raising state taxes to pay for state relief programs for illegal immigrants.
April 14th, 2020
The Honorable Jane Edwards
200 Constitution Drive
Louisiana House of Representatives
Baton Rouge, LA 70821
Dear Representative Edwards:
My name is Ms. Lucy Lu and I am a voting member of your constituency. I am writing you today to voice my aversion to the recent bill HB 666, specifically, regarding the increase in state taxes in order to pay for the welfare and healthcare of immigrants who are not American citizens.
Paying for welfare and healthcare for immigrants who come into this country illegally greatly diminishes the cost and sacrifices that legal immigrants have paid to enter this country the correct way – legally.
My own parents had to wait many years before they could legally immigrate to the United States. After legally immigrating to the United States, they waited another five years before they were sworn in as citizens. Throughout the entire process, they paid all appropriate fees and pay their taxes.
Forcing legal citizens of the United States through increased state taxes to pay for immigrants who do not follow the laws of this great country and do not pay taxes is a disgrace to the sacrifices my parents and many other immigrants have made.
Only legal citizens of the United States are entitled to state benefits. Do not raise our state taxes to pay for free state services for illegal immigrants.
This issue is very important to my family and many other voting members of our constituency. I look forward to hearing back from your office.
Ms. Lucy Lu
2004 White Oak Lane
Gatesville, Louisiana 70824
In this sample, Ms. Lu clearly addresses the proposed bill that she disagrees with. Her letter to Congresswoman Edwards opposes a piece of legislation that is up for vote in Lu’s State House of Representatives.
Lu uses persuasive evidence, a personal story from her own parents, as the base of her argument. She could have also included stats or a survey to solidify her position. But remember, be concise. If your letter is too long, it will not likely be read. Lu concludes her argument in the second to the last paragraph emphasizing in simple terms what action she is asking the Congresswoman to take. This is important because while your argument may be clear, you should always reiterate what you are ask for from the elected official.
Below is another sample of an LTC. The constituent writes concerning China’s initiation of the Coronavirus and calls for China to be held accountable.
United States House of Representatives/United State Senate City, State, Zip
Dear Representative/Senator :
I am one of your constituents, and I am writing to you today to express my strong support to investigate and hold China accountable for the spread of the Coronavirus.
The Chinese government continues to do everything in its power to blame the United States for the spread of the Wuhan Coronavirus which we both know is a lie.
There are several possible scenarios about the origin of the Wuhan Coronavirus. We do know that Chinese secrecy and lies have made the crisis far worse and as a result, people died.
All of this could have been prevented if the Chinese government had merely exercised its responsibility in containing this disease and sharing more information sooner.
This is why we MUST investigate China IMMEDIATELY -- they must be held accountable for their actions.
This issue is very important to me and many other constituents in your district. I look forward to your response.
Your City, State, Zip Code
Your Phone Number