Advocacy

Policymakers You Should Know- Congressional Offices

Members of Congress
Be sure to know the names of and basic facts about your member of the U.S. House of Representatives and your two U.S. Senators. CHA's e-Advocacy web page can provide you with information such as political party, committee assignments, hometown, former profession, year of next reelection, religion, and key staff members. Additional resources are also available on the website.

The staff members of your member of Congress are also very important to know. These professionals are given great responsibility for collecting constituents' viewpoints and for formulation of initial policy stands. The following are commonly used titles of staff members and position summaries:

  • Chief of Staff:
    The chief of staff reports directly to the member of Congress. He/she usually has overall responsibility for evaluating the political outcome of various legislative proposals and constituent requests. This is usually the person in charge of overall office operations, including the assignment of work and the supervision of key staff.
  • Legislative Director, Senior Legislative Assistant, or Legislative Coordinator:
    The legislative director is usually the staff person who monitors the legislative schedule and makes recommendations regarding the pros and cons of particular issues. Some congressional offices have several legislative assistants, and responsibilities are assigned to staff with particular expertise in specific areas. For example, depending on the responsibilities and interests of the member, an office may include a different legislative assistant for health issues, environmental matters, taxes, etc.
  • Press Secretary or Communications Director:
    The press secretary's responsibility is to build and maintain open and effective lines of communication between the member and his/her constituency and the general public. The press secretary is knowledgeable about the benefits, demands, and special requirements of both print and electronic media, and how to most effectively promote the member's views or position on specific issues.
  • Appointment Secretary, Personal Secretary, or Scheduler:
    The appointment secretary is usually responsible for allocating a member's time among the many demands that arise from congressional responsibilities, staff requirements, and constituent requests. The appointment secretary may also be responsible for making necessary travel arrangements, arranging speaking dates, visits to the district, etc.
  • Caseworker:
    The caseworker is the staff member who helps with constituent requests by preparing replies for the member's signature. The caseworker's responsibilities may also include helping resolve problems constituents present in relation to federal agencies, e.g., Social Security and Medicare issues, and veterans' benefits. There are often several caseworkers in a congressional office.

Source: Congressional Research Service