Planning Your Meeting with Congress

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Lobbying can be both exciting and intimidating. Being prepared is one way to reduce anxiety. This training walks participants through a step-by-step process for preparing for a meeting with Congress and/or their staff.

TOC and Guide Section
Prepare yourself

To prepare yourself, review the instructions below and coordinate with your CCL liaison to finalize your Meeting Plan Template.

For the June Conference, prepare to submit your plan by May 30th. If you miss the deadline, please send your template to your entire team after you receive the schedule for your lobby day assignments on June 6th, 2019. For team meeting times in DC, see this suggested schedule breakdown depending on when your meeting is confirmed for and who else will be on your team (schedules emailed by June 6th).

Thinking ahead

Do you have materials to bring to the meeting?

Plan your appreciation for your member of Congress

We start each meeting with an appreciation. See “press release” tab of the member of Congress’s website for ideas.

Determine your primary goal(s) for the meeting

This will relate to your “ask” below. Some examples:

  • Highlight your personal and local stories of climate impacts.
  • June Meeting Analysis (this can be a standalone goal of the November meeting)
  • Respond to topics discussed in previous meetings with this office. (Past objection, question, past misconception, etc.)
  • Share resources, such as the REMI Report, Household Impact Study, or Yale Climate Opinion Data.
  • Share constituent letters, grasstops endorsements and published media.
  • Share the success regarding the introduction of the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act.
  • Ask for advice. Ask questions so the member of Congress/staff feel heard. Build on your relationship.
What is your “Ask” or “Supporting Ask?"

Our Primary Ask is always the same but liaisons and lobby teams craft more strategic and tailored Supporting Asks before the meeting. See Making Primary and Supporting Asks for more detail.

Determine open-ended questions

f7d7ceafe923834d3810a294876934a6-huge-snThe sweet spot is what is relevant to both parties. As you learn about your member of Congress's world and priorities through asking open-ended questions it makes it easier to identify and frame questions that help them meet you in the middle where both of your priorities can be acted on. 
Suggested questions to uncover common values:

  • A majority of Americans on both sides of the aisle believe Congress should take steps to deal with the risks of a warming world. What’s your preferred plan to solving climate change?
  • What are your top three priorities for this year? (member of Congress and staffer may answer differently)
  • How do you think we can best transition to a clean-energy economy?
  • There is strong bipartisan support for keeping our air and water clean. How can we do this while providing a good environment for business?
  • The Pentagon reports that climate change is a threat multiplier leading to increased risk of U.S. troops being sent abroad. Would you comment on this?
  • If a carbon fee helps the economy and helps keep global warming in check, would you support it?

Transition Questions: If your member of Congress is starting to change a previous position on climate policy in a more supportive direction, here are questions that help provide space to change:

On climate change:

  • Why do you think attention to climate is important?
  • What commitments do you have to addressing climate change?
  • What steps have you taken on climate already?
  • Why do you feel something should be done about climate change?

On the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act:

  • What do you like about revenue-neutral solutions like the Energy Innovation Act?
  • What do you find desirable about the Energy Innovation Act? What parts would you be able to support?
  • Where do you see the Energy Innovation Act working for your constituents?
  • When would you be able to support the Energy Innovation Act?
  • In what ways are you committed to supporting the Energy Innovation Act?
  • What would you be willing to do move the the Energy Innovation Act discussion forward?
  • Given your interest in (X), what specific concerns do you have that prevent you from supporting the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act?

End of meeting questions:

  • Who do you work with across the aisle?
  • What could we be doing more of in the district to make it easier for you to support the EICDA?
Assign meeting roles

At a minimum, be sure the roles below are assigned. For a full list of roles and descriptions, see Lobby Team Roles.

  • Meeting leader
  • Time Monitor
  • Notetaker - confirm the notetaker can submit notes within 48 hours.
  • Appreciator - the person who will deliver the appreciation.
  • Follow up - the person who will follow up on the team's asks.
Press play to start the video (54m 27s)
Video Outline
To skip ahead to a specific section go to the time indicated in parenthesis.

Intro & Agenda
(from beginning)

Tools for Preparing to Lobby

Assigning Roles

Supporting Asks & Legislation of Interest

Practice Ahead

Putting It All Together

  • Sabrina Fu
  • Ben Pendergrass

Download PowerPoint or Google Slides presentation.

Download the video.
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Press play to start the audio (54m 27s)
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Audio Outline

To skip ahead to a specific section go to the time indicated in parenthesis.

Intro & Agenda
(from beginning)

Tools for Preparing to Lobby

Assigning Roles

Supporting Asks & Legislation of Interest

Practice Ahead

Putting It All Together

  • Sabrina Fu
  • Ben Pendergrass
Go Deeper
To help you plan and coordinate your meeting, make sure to involve your district's liaison. To find out more about who your liaison is, ask your group leader. Don't have a liaison for your district? Volunteer to become a liaison.
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