Contacting the Congress is a database of biographical information, phone numbers, FAX numbers, office addresses, electronic mail addresses and WWW homepages for members of the Congress and Congressional Committees. I hope you can use this information to counter-act some of the idiocy going on in Washington, whatever you consider "idiocy" to be. Keep in mind that every fax or voice call is interpreted by your congressmember as equal to the opinion of many more constituents who don't call. You can make a difference!
Over the years since I started this service, there have been many questions that have come up, some might even call them Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), so I have put together this document to provide an easy way to lookup answers to these FAQs.
When mailing members of Congress (electronically or otherwise), keep in mind to be formal and to the point or your letter may be ignored. Include your ground mail address in the body of the email because most Congressmembers only respond to their constituency. Also, keep in mind this advice from Lawrence Rudner, Director of the ERIC Clearinghouse on Assessment and Evaluation:
Your letter should go to your Senator or Representative and should be no longer than one page; two brief paragraphs are best. Identify yourself, your affiliation, and your major concern in the first paragraph. You should describe why the concern is important and worthwhile in the second paragraph. End with your postal address. Keep it concise!
There is no rule saying that one form of communication is better than any other for contacting Congressmembers, however, the overall impression I get is that email is taken less seriously than ground mail or a phone call. In any case, you should always provide your ground mail address in any communications with your Congressmembers. However, if speed of the essense, use FAX or email because since the Fall of 2001, all Capitol Hill ground mail is exposed to thorough decontamination procedures and therefore can take up to a month to get through.
In general, you should only contact your Representative and two Senators. Congressmembers generally only want to hear from their constituents, or at least will prioritize their time to deal with constitients. An exception to this rule is if you're contacting members of a committee about impending legislation they are considering, in that case, contacting members directly is acceptable, even if you are not a constituent.
Basically because it would be a very bad idea to just blast a message to that many Congressmembers. Congressmembers get lots of email from non-constituents, and depending on the office, this mail may get deleted automatically. Furthermore, with the continuing problem of SPAM (unsolicitied commercial email, aka junk email), the House and Senate mail servers may implement filtering technology specifically targeting incoming email addressed to all members. Simply put, by emailing everyone in Congress, your message may get to no one in Congress.
This site originally started as a Microsoft Word for Macintosh document put together by Juan Cabanela with phone numbers, fax numbers, and email addresses (all 20 of them) for the 103rd Congress. This file was placed online at a shareware repository called INFO-MAC in August of 1994. This document was updated for the 104th Congress in January of 1995. After asking permission to do so, Hemang Patel (who was a UC Davis at that time) converted this Microsoft Word document into a WWW site, placing a copy online on March 12, 1995. Since that time, I have maintained this site, adding features such as automated building of pages from the database via CGIs, searching for Congressional Districts by ZIP Code, and full Committee and Subcommittee information.
This site is maintained by Juan Cabanela, who is currently a Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Minnesota State University Moorhead. In the early years of this site, he used to get a great deal of help from Grace York, a Government Documents Librarian at the Unversity of Michigan who maintained the excellent Government Resources on the Web site. Currently, all the back end data for this site comes from Mike Waters, President of Congress Merge, who provides updates from "inside the beltway" to Juan, who in Minnesota, resides well "outside the beltway." If you found this site especially helpful and if you have gotten far enough to read this, feel free to mail Juan postcards of your home town at:
1304 15th Street South
Moorhead, MN 56560
Well, I was originally upset about the building of a manned Space Station at the expense of other science, so I decided to write my Congressmember and discovered I didn't even really know who they were since I had moved. I started tracking down all the information I could, putting it together so that others could use it. This little project has grown from a 68 kilobyte MS Word document to a WWW site interfacing with a 40 megabytes of databases!
I am not a U.S. government employee. As a professor at Minnesota State University Moorhead, I am an employee of the State of Minnesota, but this site is not supported by either the Minnesota or U.S. Federal Government in any way. The only financial support for this site comes from Google Ads.
I try to keep this site very up-to-date (just check the What's New page to confirm how up-to-date). I check my email daily, sometimes more often. I update the site database where there are updates from Congress Merge and when people alert me to errors .
This information about the Congress was compiled from sites across the Internet. My sources of information for this site include the White House WWW server, the U.S. House of Representatives WWW, the U.S. Senate WWW, and Grace York's excellent Government Resources on the Web. If you know of any ommissions, errors or suggestions, please this email me about it.
I encourage you to be informed and check out the Vote Smart WWW site. It provides information on Congressmembers' voting records so you can make informed opinions on their capabilities. And it is non-partisan!
Check out the downloads page, which provides a subset of the congressional contact information. The data is provided in both an easy to print file and a TAB delimited file for importing into spreadsheets.
This database is not mine to give away. That database has been licensed from Mike Waters of Congress Merge. Congress Merge licenses both this database and sells a Congressional Grass Roots Manager package which is what I use as the backend of this site (since I helped write it).
If it is not listed, it is because I do not have their "real" email address. There are no secret addresses that I have stashed away, I spill the beans about any Congressmember's email address I find out about. If you want to complain about this, phone your Congressmember's district office and ask for their "real" email address.
This site has won some recognition or awards, although most were some time ago when the internet seemed new. Here's a list of some of the awards the site has recieved.
When this website was originally built, in 1995, I was using a (then) three year old Apple Macintosh Quadra 610 with 24 MB of RAM, Adobe SuperPaint 3.5, BBEdit Lite 4.0, MacPerl 5.1.3r2, and TypeStyler 3.0b1 . Those were the "good old days" of hand-editting webpages...
In the years since then, the Quadra has since been replaced by three computers: a Apple (intel) iMac/2x2GHz with 2 GB of RAM at home, a Apple MacBook Pro/2x2.66GHz with 8 GB RAM when on the road, and an Apple Mac Pro/2x2.66GHz with 13 GB RAM at the office. All my current hardware is running MacOS X 10.8. Software I use in building this site include: BBEdit 10.5, Perl 5.10 (installed by default on MacOS X), and Coda 2 for site maintenance.
As of 2003, the backend of Contacting the Congress is essentially a slightly modified version of the Congress Merge online database package which I helped write.
Absolutely no Micro$oft products (or operating systems) were used in the production of this site.
Last Updated: Saturday, August 03, 2013 11:17:52 CDT