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Tips On Writing to Congress

Writing a letter is one of the most effective ways we can communicate with our elected officials. Since most representatives and senators tally public opinion to help them make decisions, think of the impact we can achieve flooding Capitol Hill with thousands of letters!

Often times congressional offices equate one hand-written letter with 100 people that support that issue. Just 3-5 letters to a Representative's office will force their staff to address an issue and craft a response. Your letter will make a difference!

Contrary to popular belief, it doesn't take an expert to write a good letter. Just a few sentences can convey a need and motivate our leaders to specific action.

You can write a letter in 90 seconds! Just follow this simple outline:

1. Purpose first. The reason for writing should be stated in the first paragraph of the letter. State something specific and be concise. Express clearly and briefly what action you would like. One or two paragraphs should be enough. "Please make debt cancellation a priority during your term." If your letter pertains to a specific piece of legislation, identify it accordingly, e.g., House bill: H. R. ____, Senate bill: S.____.

2. Be personal. A mailed handwritten letter receives much greater attention than a preprinted card or letter. In whatever form, include your postal address. Be courteous and to the point.

3. Name the Action. Whether it is Jubilee USA Network legislation, World Bank reform or other issues, it is always good to be specific. Jubilee provides background on action issues as well as on specific legislation moving through Congress. For example:
"Please vote in favor or against BILL ZYX."
"I am asking you to fully fund the debt cancellation."
"Now is the time to provide debt relief for poverty reduction in the world's poorest countries."

4. Tell why this is important. Put the situation in concrete terms. For example: "More than 18,000 children die every day as a result of international debt."
"The United States has been funding debt relief, now it is the IMF and World Bank's turn to do the same."
"Debt cancellation will renew access to safe water and primary health care and education for a billion people."

5. Address only one issue in each letter; and, if possible, keep the letter to one page.

Dear Sen.________ or Rep._______,
Congratulations on your (re) election.I am writing to ask you to make debt cancellation a priority. Specifically, I urge you vote in favor of BILL XYZ that requires the United States to pressure the IMF and World Bank to cancel 100% of the debts of impovrished nations out of their own resources without harmful structural adjustment programs such as water privatization. Definative debt cancellation will save the lives of over 18,000 children that die every day from debt related causes, and transform debt into life for billions.
Your name
Your address

Addressing Correspondence

To a Senator: The Honorable (full name)
__(Rm.#) __(name of) Senate Office Building
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

To a Representative
: The Honorable (full name)
__(Rm.#) __(name of) House Office Building
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

  • Note: When writing to the Chair of a Committee or the Speaker of the House, it is proper to address them as: Dear Mr. Chairman or Madam Chairwoman or Dear Ms. Speaker or Mr. Speaker.
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