Posts tagged ‘Congressional leadership’

Identifying and Cultivating Key Members of Congress and Contacts

When it comes to identifying and cultivating contacts and influential individuals who can assist you with your issue, it is never too early to begin. Start working with key decision makers on your issue as early as possible. Make it a priority to identify leaders that other congressional members will look toward regarding the development of their own position on the issue.

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One of the worst mistakes you can make is to neglect top leaders and other influential members as these are the people who can quickly influence other members. If you do not take action quickly enough and reach them first, key leaders can easily become solidified against your position on that issue if your opponents persuade them first.

Lobbying and Advocacy, by Deanna GelakOne of the first steps you must take is to identify and then connect with anyone who might be a champion for your cause. Identify key committee and personal staff early on. And you need to work both the Senate and the House. It can be quite easy to neglect one chamber of Congress when all of the action is taking place in the other chamber, but that is a mistake. Make certain you work and monitor both chambers at the same time.

Do not make the mistake of waiting until the bill has made its way out of committee to begin contacting influential members and leadership. While it can be a challenge to gain the attention of influential members and leaders on an issue before it is out of committee, you must make the effort. Begin grassroots activity early on to help ensure all members are familiar with your issue and have some knowledge about it. This is particularly important if it is possible your issue might quickly move to the floor.

At the same time, continue cultivating your contacts. On Capitol Hill, memories are relatively short-lived. You must continually work on maintaining contacts and your own usefulness as a reliable and credible resource. It takes skill to provide information that is valuable while avoiding the trap of becoming annoying, a skill worth developing.

For more information about communicating with congressional leaders, consider TheCapitol.Net’s 1-day course, Strategies for Working with Congress: Effective Communication and Advocacy on Capitol Hill and their 3-day Capitol Hill Workshop.

Reference: Lobbying and Advocacy, by Deanna Gelak, Section 8.12 Lobby Tips and Section 8.13 Continually Cultivate Contacts

For more information about working with Congress, see these resources from TheCapitol.Net:

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Understanding the Role of Party Leaders

Given the size of Congress, consisting of 535 members, it can sometimes be difficult to understand the role of various members and how Congress goes about establishing agendas.

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Just after each election, members of each political party for both Congressional chambers meet in order to elect party leaders. These positions are important as party leaders generally have more power than other members of Congress. This is particularly true in the House of Representatives.

For instance, party leaders are responsible for determining which bills will be considered by their respective chambers. They may also play a role in determining which amendments can be offered by other Congressional members. Party leaders also have a large influence determining the position of the party regarding particular issues.

In addition, party leaders also have the ability and the power to damage or advance the careers of other members of their own party. This can be accomplished by the way in which committee leadership positions, committee assignments and campaign funds are allocated. The way in which committee assignments are handled can be quite important. Not all committees are equal to one another, and some committees are able to wield more power as well as raise more campaign money.

Beyond these abilities, party leaders also have formal powers that are provided according to the rules of their respective chambers. One of the most important of these powers is the privilege to speak both first and last on issues if they so choose. In most instances, the power of party leaders is more of informal. Even though it may seem as though party leaders have a tremendous amount of power, any actions they take must be tempered by the need to maintain the support of the majority of their caucus. Persuading Congress, by Joseph Gibson

Because leaders have so much influence, it is important to build long-term relationships with them.

Reference: Chapter 4, Party Leaders and Chapter 5-Committees, Chairs and Ranking Members, in Persuading Congress, by Joseph Gibson


For more information about working with Congress, see these resources from TheCapitol.Net:

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