Activist Toolkit: Engage Policy Makers

Engaging your Member of Congress is essential to influencing the TPP. The fight against the TPP is primarily in the U.S. House of Representatives (though we have included information on engaging both your Represetnative and your Senators), and you can find out who your Representative is by visiting the webpage  Below you will find three key ways to engage your Member of Congress.
1. Write a letter to your Member of Congress: Writing a letter to your Member of Congress is a great way to engage your Representative on the TPP. Members like hearing from their constituents about issues that will affect their livelihoods, and writing a personalized is letter is one of the best ways to express your opinion to your Member. If you can take the time to handwrite a letter, that is ideal, though emailed or typed letters are also great. Here are key tips for writing a letter to your Member of Congress:
A. Addressing the letter to your Representative
The Honorable (full name)
United States House of Representatives
Washington, D. C. 20515
Dear Representative (last name):

B. Addressing the letter to your Senators
The Honorable (full name)
United States Senate
Washington, D. C. 20515
Dear Senator (last name):

C. Letter content tips
  • Let your Member know you are a constituent. In your letter, clearly state early on that you’re a constituent in your member's district. Members are more likely to engage with you if you are their constituent.

  • Make sure to state your reason for writing in the opening paragraph. (i.e. I am writing to ask you to publicly state your opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership.).

  • Communicate in your own words why you’re opposing the TPP, (i.e. because of its many harmful impacts on the environment) and why you’re urging your member to vote no.

  • Personalized letters are more effective than utilizing pre-written templates.  

  • Keep your comments brief; we suggest letters that are one page or shorter.

  • Be specific.

  • Explain how the TPP affects you and, if possible, how it impacts your community and/or state.  

  • Be courteous and respectful in all communications.  

  • Keep in mind that words of appreciation are always valued.

D. Addressing the envelope
In order to find your member’s address, you should first go to and put in your zip code. This website will bring up your member's web page, and there you can find all of their addresses.
Members of the U. S. House of Representatives:
The Honorable (full name)
United States House of Representatives
(Address) House Office Building
Washington, D. C. 20515

Members of the U. S. Senate:
The Honorable (full name)
United States Senate
(Address) Senate Office Building
Washington, D. C. 20510
To find the contact information of your legislators or to write your legislator via email, please visit
2. Ask your Representative a question at a town hall meeting: When Members of Congress are home in their districts, they often hold town hall meetings or forums to gather input from their constituents. These local gatherings provide a great opportunity to voice concerns and ask questions regarding the TPP. By asking effective questions at town hall meetings, you can raise awareness of the TPP and put the TPP onto your legislator’s agenda. Below are some tips to help you make the most of your town hall meeting.
A. How to find a town hall meeting
You can learn about upcoming constituent events (e.g., town hall meetings, breakfast events, candidate forums) by visiting the websites of your members of Congress. If you cannot find anything online, call the local district offices (you can find the phone number on the website of your member of Congress) and ask about future town hall meetings. Oftentimes, you can receive event notifications by asking to be placed on the representative’s e-mailing list.  
And finally, looking at the congressional calendar or legislative schedules on the websites of the Senate ( and House (
will tell you when your member of Congress will likely be back home in your district. Members of Congress spend August in their home states, in addition to other weeks throughout the year.
B. What to expect at a meeting or forum
Because legislators will typically arrive early to speak with constituents one-on-one, it’s a good idea to get to the event as early as possible. You can also use this time to sign up to ask a question during the ‘questions and answers’ portion of the meeting. Don’t be nervous about speaking up! The reason that legislators hold town hall meetings is that they want to hear your opinions and thoughts.
Town hall meetings generally begin with the Member giving a speech or set of informal remarks. A question and answer session then follows. Afterwards, the legislator will typically remain for a while longer to speak individually with constituents. You may want to bring some TPP reports or other materials with you in case you get the chance to pass them on to your legislator or his/her staff.
C. Asking your question
Prepare your question on the TPP in advance. Try to keep your question succinct and to the point; direct questions that require yes or no answers are ideal. Personalized questions that tie into your life or the lives of your community members are particularly powerful and memorable. To get you started thinking about your question, here are some sample TPP questions:
  • Congressman/Congresswoman/Senator: The Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement would require the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to automatically approve all exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to all TPP countries with no review or assessment of the environmental or economic implications. I will not support a trade agreement that expands fracking in my community. Will you commit to publicly opposing the TPP because it puts our community’s health and environment at risk of being polluted by fracking?

  • Congressman/Congresswoman/Senator: For too long our trade agreements have given rights to foreign corporations to challenge countries’ domestic laws and policies in private tribunals. Increasingly, corporations have challenged environmental and other public interest policies. These investment rules, which are replicated in the TPP, subvert our democracy and expand the power of corporations at the expense of the people and the planet. Will you commit to vote ‘no’ to the TPP  because it allows corporations to attack U.S. laws and policies in private tribunals?

  • Congressman/Congresswoman/Senator: The Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement would shift U.S. manufacturing to countries with more carbon-intensive production. In order to avoid the worst effects of climate change, we must first reduce climate emissions. It is clear that this deal will increase climate emissions putting us on an irreversible path to climate destabilization. Will you commit to vote “no” to the TPP because it will increase greenhouse gas emissions?

When you are called to ask your question, you may want to:
  • Stand up and state your name and town of residence;  

  • Thank the legislator for holding the town hall meeting;

  • Ask your question; and

  • Thank the Member for answering your question.

Please take notes on the Congressperson’s response, and email his/her answers
D. Follow Up
Since the legislator will typically stay for a bit after the meeting, try to follow up on your question with either the Member or his/her staff. You can also use this time to ask a question if you were unable to ask it during the question and answer session, and/or give some TPP materials to the Member or his/her staff.  Try to get a business card from the staff so you can continue to stay in touch.
To keep the TPP issue on the legislator’s radar, send an email to the legislator in the days following the town hall meeting. In the email, mention that you attended the town hall meeting and reiterate the TPP questions/concerns/requests that you made. Ultimately, persistence is our greatest tool for influencing the decisions of our legislators!
3. Set up a meeting with your member of congress: A really powerful way to have your voice heard on harmful trade pacts such as the TPP is to set up a meeting with your Member of Congress. All representatives have offices in Washington, D.C as well as in their home districts so it’s fairly simple to set up an in person meeting to talk through your issues. Below you will find some tips for setting up a meeting with your member of congress.   
While communicating with legislators and their staff might sound intimidating at first, organizing a Congressional visit is easy once you know what to expect and how to plan it. Plus, remember that it is the job of Members of Congress to represent their constituents –- they want to know what is important to you.  
Below are four steps to organizing a successful meeting:
A. Schedule your visit
The first step to setting up a meeting with the staff of your Members of Congress is to know who your Members are. You can find names and contact information of your two Senators at this webpage ( and your Representatives at this webpage (    
On the webpages of your Senators and Representatives, you can find information on where your Member stands on issues related to trade and the environment, contact information (in Washington, D.C. and in his/her home district), and more.
To schedule your meeting in his/her home district, find the number to the district office on your member of Congress webpage and ask to speak with the scheduler. It can sometimes take multiple tries to get through to a scheduler, so be persistent. Once you reach the scheduler, ask to set up a meeting with the staff member who works on trade issues.
Call again the day before your scheduled visit to confirm your meeting.
B. Plan and practice
A successful congressional visit starts with good preparation. Read about your legislator’s background and find out where he/she stands on issues relating to the TPP, trade, and the environment.
It’s equally important that you have a clear idea of what you are going to say and how you are going to say it. Remember that you are trying to convey your concerns about the TPP and persuade your Representative or Senator to commit to vote against the TPP, so building a strong argument is critical your success.  
You may want to start by creating a meeting agenda that outlines your key points. You should also think about articles, factsheets, or reports that can strengthen the persuasiveness of your argument. You can print out these materials and bring them to your meeting to leave with the staff member you meet with.  
If possible, incorporate short personal stories that explain or bolster your position on the TPP into your meeting, such as how past free trade agreements, like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), may have affected your community or state, or how you are deeply concerned that the TPP would pave the way for more fracking in your community or state. Speaking about your experiences or the experiences of your community members is a powerful way to advocate for change and ensure that your meeting will not be forgotten by the legislator.
If you are visiting as a part of group, decide who will cover what points prior to the visit. Select a lead for the meeting – someone who will keep the group on task, keep an eye on the clock, and ensure that all points on the agenda are discussed. Also, make sure you or someone in your group takes notes and documents any commitments your member of Congress may have made during the conversation.
Finally, since a clear, concise, and well-organized presentation and a clear ask of your member of Congress to oppose the TPP will yields the best results, make sure that your group practices at least once together.
C. Make the most of your meeting
Show up 10 to 15 minutes early to your meeting. Start the visit on a positive note by thanking the legislator and his/her staff for taking the time to meet with you. Some small talk at the beginning of the meeting can allow you to find common ground and build a connection with your legislator and their staff.
Once the meeting begins in earnest, state the reason why you are there in a clear and concise manner. Summarize your concerns regarding the TPP and be clear from the beginning that you are here to ask your member of Congress to take a position against the TPP. Since your time is limited, try to present your argument and demands in five minutes or less.
During the meeting, you will want to balance how much time you and the Congressional staff speak. Listen carefully, take notes, and ask questions. In responding to the questions or statements of the legislator or legislator’s staff, be mindful of the fact that you are here to build bridges. Even if you deeply disagree with the Congressperson’s position, remain respectful.
At the end of the meeting, outline what the next steps are for follow-up. Go over what you and/or your group will do next and what legislator and/or Congressional staff will do next. Review any commitments that your elected official might have made during the course of the meeting. Thank the staff again for their time. Finally, leave with the staff a folder that contains TPP-related information and your requests. Also, remember to ask for a business card from the Congressional staff so that you can easily follow-up.
D. Follow up
Within one to two days of the visit, send a thank you letter or email to your legislator and his/her staff that outlines the different points covered during the meeting. Also, forward any additional information you promised to supply. Try to keep in regular contact with your legislator by sharing TPP-related news, events, and stories.