Step 3: Learn The Policy
The more research about the policy you do now, the more likely you are to get results. Here are some resources to get you started on your search for issues, legislation, voting records, and more:
GovTrack was started as a hobby in 2004 to help Americans participate in government. Today, their vast database allows you to research specific bills, learn about each member of Congress, search voting records, and gain perspective on each piece of proposed legislation.
Congress.gov is Congress’s official resource, with much of the same information. It’s a little harder to navigate than GovTrack but tends to be more thorough.
Opensecrets.org is The Center for Responsive Politic's website that tracks money in politics and its effect on US elections and policy. They have a searchable database of all organizations currently lobbying Congress; you can use their website to find out who might oppose your issue as well as potential partners.
Congressional Research Service (CRS) is a research arm of the United States Congress. They provide public policy research and legal analysis for congressional committees and Members of both the House and Senate, regardless of their party affiliation.
Become A Subject Matter Expert
If you know an issue well, whether through a hobby or your profession, you could easily become a resource for your member of Congress. Let staffers know they can reach out to you if they have any questions. Since Congress is spread so thin, they rely on SMEs for help with forming policies. They will love it if one of their SMEs is a constituent and not a highly paid lobbyist. Knowing an issue well will also demonstrate to congressional staffers that you have put in the effort and are passionate about the issue. Staffers know that passionate constituents vote often and tend to have influence in the home district.
Note: CRS does not make its publications available to the public. In order to help overcome this, the Federation of American Scientists provides access to as many non-confidential CRS reports as possible. A list of helpful CRS reports are found here. You can also google your issue using the phrase "CRS Report" before the search phrase.