Visit to Capitol Hill
The Day Inside the Beltway (DITB) program provides SHRM members the unique opportunity to travel to our Nation’s capital for a day of legislative and regulatory meetings and briefings. Activities include meeting with the staff at SHRM's headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia, where staff briefs the members on the issues they will be discussing during their visits to Capitol Hill, as well as how to conduct an advocacy meeting with a legislator or their staff.
SHRM's Government Affairs staff will pre-arrange your meetings on Capitol Hill, as well as accompany you on your visits. Meetings are scheduled for you to visit the offices of your two Senators, as well as your member of the House of Representatives.
The DITB provide a great opportunity for you to advocate on behalf of SHRM and the HR profession, to learn more about the political process, and to have a real impact on the public policy debate involving critical HR issues.
Planning for a DITB Visit to Washington, DC
Elected officials will appreciate your visit—taking valuable time to travel to Washington, DC sends a very clear message about the importance you place on public policy matters. Plan your visit carefully; be clear about who you want to meet and what you seek to accomplish. The best days to visit a legislator in Washington are Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday.
- Once you’ve decided to coordinate a DITB contact a member of SHRM’s Government Affairs staff to identify a specific date for your group’s trip to Washington, DC. SHRM staff will provide guidance on dates that Congress is in session to maximize your time on Capitol Hill with lawmakers and their respective staffs.
- Once a date is confirmed for your DITB, communicate and coordinate with other HR professionals in your state to solicit support and their participation. Be sure to collect the names, email addresses, telephone numbers and home mailing addresses of everyone in your group that will participate in the DITB. SHRM staff will utilize this information (especially the home mailing addresses) to begin scheduling Hill meetings with each participant’s respective U.S. House of Representative member and the two Senators.
- Share the list of DITB participants from your state with SHRM Government Affairs staff. (SHRM will schedule the meetings on your behalf and will provide the full schedule the day prior or on the day of the scheduled DITB).
- Approximately two weeks prior to your trip to Washington, DC, contact SHRM’s Government Affairs staff to find out what HR-related legislative issues are trending on Capitol Hill that will be discussed with lawmakers and their staffs. SHRM staff will provide fact sheets for the legislative issues so that you and your group can prepare for your meeting. In addition, SHRM staff will also provide hard copies of the leave-behind documents for all Hill meetings. SHRM staff will provide a legislative briefing on HR-related proposals for the group prior to the Hill meetings with lawmakers and their staffs. See the sample DITB schedule
- Email a copy of the fact sheets with all participants of the DITB and ask that they review the documents prior to traveling to Washington, DC.
- Plan to share stories of how the legislative issues you will be discussing will have a direct impact on your organization and its employees.
- Travel to Washington, DC. Participate in a legislative briefing breakfast with SHRM Government Affairs staff. Attend Hill meetings.
- Following your DITB, send thank you notes to the Member of Congress and or staff you met with. See SHRM’s template thank you letter
- Feedback. It is important that SHRM’s Government Affairs Team captures what you talked about during your meeting. Use the SHRM feedback form to give us additional details about your meeting and its outcomes. Please submit feedback forms within one week of your meeting w/ your respective lawmaker and/or his/her staff. Please use the "Send Us Feedback" form in the right navigation of this page to tell us about your meeting.
Do’s and Don’ts: Tips for Meeting With Your Elected Officials
A face-to-face meeting with your elected officials is usually the most effective way of educating them on HR-related public policy issues. It provides an excellent opportunity to convey and receive information and to develop relationships that will benefit the profession.
Before the Meeting
- Be clear about the purpose of the meeting and what you want to accomplish. For example, review the fact sheets that are prepared by SHRM Government Affairs so that you are familiar with the issues ahead of time. Be sure to make the “ASK” on the specific legislative issues.
- Do your homework ahead of time. Research the legislator’s voting record and know whether he or she sits on any key committees that affect your issue. You should visit the member’s website and search online for useful background information. The SHRM Government Affairs staff can also be a helpful resource to you.
During the Meeting
- Be sure to arrive on time and dress appropriately (business attire).
- All attendees should introduce themselves and indicate their positions with their employers (also note if you are a SHRM Advocacy Captain or HR Advocate, chapter or State Council Legislative Director, or other SHRM volunteer); be sure to specify that you are constituents.
- Start the meeting by thanking the legislator/staff for meeting with you and, where appropriate, for supporting SHRM’s public policy positions.
- Present your issue in a clear and concise manner. Remember your advantages: 1) you are the expert; 2) few members of Congress have an HR background; 3) you deal with these issues on a daily basis, and, more importantly, realize their real-world implications; and 4) you are a constituent who can speak to issues that affect employers and employees in the legislator’s district or state.
- Incorporate a personal story or anecdote to make the issue more “real” to the legislator. These are the types of nuggets that sometimes find their way into a speech by the legislator or a media interview: “An employer in my district has found that …”
- Request specific action from your legislator (e.g., voting for or against a specific bill, co-sponsoring a bill, etc.).
- Do not argue or lecture.
- After presenting your position, listen to the legislator or legislative aide. Ask them to indicate the legislator’s position on the issue(s) or listen for cues to see if congressional leadership or a special interest is pressuring the legislator to take one position over another.
- If you do not know the answer to a question, don’t be afraid to say so. Promise to follow up after the meeting. This allows for a great opportunity to build rapport with the office, as you are following up with information at their request.
- Thank the legislator or aide for her or his time.
- Give the legislator the leave-behind materials SHRM staff prepared. Offer the legislator your business card (but only if appropriate; otherwise, provide a card with personal contact information) and offer your availability in the future. Also, request the business cards of any staff with whom you meet.
- Never offer anyone in a legislator’s office gifts of any kind. Ethics rules governing allowable gifts to legislative offices can be quite complicated. Our goal is to build rapport with offices rather than “buy influence.”
After the Meeting
- Write a thank-you letter to the legislator summarizing your conversation and any commitments that were made.
- Follow up and provide any additional information that was requested or offered.
- Record the substance of the meeting, including any specific issues addressed, in thefeedback form that SHRM staff provided.
- Don’t forget to thank the staff! It is important to maintain a relationship with not only the member of Congress but also his or her staff. Staffers make it possible to bend the member’s ear year-round on issues affecting the HR profession.
How will you know if your meeting has been a success? Sometimes that answer becomes obvious over time, especially if your member of Congress co-sponsors important legislation or is willing to support your opposition to a bill that could be detrimental to the HR profession. On other occasions, the answer is more immediate. Your representative might call the next day wanting to know how a specific proposal might impact the workplace in his or her state or congressional district. Your first thought should be, “Great. They see us as a valuable resource.” You’ve established a dialogue and are on track to building a mutually beneficial relationship.
The test of success lies in the answers to these questions:
- Does my congressional representative better understand the role of the HR profession?
- Have I left the member of Congress with a memorable, anecdotal example of how a legislative proposal would impact processes in the workplace and would furthermore impact his or her constituents?
- Have I “put a human face” on the HR profession?
If you can answer yes to these questions, then you have taken an essential step toward creating a legislative climate that will be positive and supportive of the HR profession and professionals around the country.
Template Thank You Letter and Follow Up
Following a meeting with your lawmaker(s) and or his/her staff it is important to follow up with a “Thank You” note. Sending a thank you note serves three main purposes:
- Expresses appreciation for the time to discuss issues of importance to your profession;
- Reiterate key message points;
- Provide additional information, if necessary. (If your lawmaker and or staff has requested additional details, studies, statistics, sharing an article which mentions the issues you discussed etc.)
< Name of Staffer>
United States House of Representatives (OR United States Senate)
District Office Street Address
District Office City, State and ZIP Code
Thank you for taking the time to meet with on in Washington, DC. I appreciate the opportunity to meet with you to discuss issues of importance to the HR community.
We would be grateful for your support on these issues.
Thank you again for the opportunity to meet with you. I am happy to keep your office informed on the issues impacting employers within the community. Please contact me via or if you need further information. I look forward to speaking with you again.
Washington, D.C. Hill Visit –Travel Ideas
If you are traveling by flight to Washington, DC, there are three airports in the Washington, DC area:
- Baltimore-Washington International airport – BWI
- Reagan-National – DCA
- Dulles – IAD
The fares are usually significantly cheaper when traveling through the Baltimore-Washington airport than Reagan-National and Dulles in D.C.
Once at BWI there is a free shuttle to the Amtrak station. The bus pickup stops are clearly marked and are outside at ground level transportation. The shuttle takes about 10 minutes to get to the train station.
Once at the train station take the MARC train. It is much cheaper than Amtrak ($8.00 - one way). The Amtrak train is double that price. Once at the station you can either purchase a one-way ticket or a round-trip ticket to Union Station in D.C. at the ticket counter or at an automated vending machine. It is cheaper to buy a round-trip ticket. The trains leave every hour or so. You can check the schedule at www.mtamaryland.com. Look for the Penn Line schedule. Southbound is into D.C. and Northbound is back to the BWI Amtrak station where you started.
Once in Union Station you have several options depending on where you are heading. Cab is the easiest but most expensive $12.00 to $25.00. The Metro subway (www.metroopensdoors.com) will cost about $1.65 and the Circulator bus (www.dccirculator.com) is $1.00. Of course all of this is dependent on your destination and the various bus and subway stops. (Hotel, Capitol Hill, SHRM) The cabs and the Circulator buses are located out front of Union Station. The Metro is located to the right as you exit the train tracks doorway. Take the escalator down and there is an information booth with an attendant to answer any questions. Tickets must be purchased through a vending machine so have plenty of one-dollar bills.
Washington, D.C. Hill Visit – Hotels
1800 Duke Street, Alexandria, VA 22314
The Westin Alexandria
400 Courthouse Square
Alexandria, VA 22314
Embassy Suites Alexandria - Old Town
1900 Diagonal Road
Alexandria, VA 22314
Residence Inn Alexandria Old Town/Duke Street
1456 Duke Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
Sample DITB Schedule
||Welcome and Introduction
||Roundtable Discussion: Led by the Governmental Affairs Staff (on legislative issues)
||Working Lunch; Topic: “How to Effectively Advocate”
||In Transit to Capitol Hill
||Meetings with Members of Congress
||Senator Meeting (204 Russell Senate Office Building)
Contact: Andy Guggenheim
||Senator Meeting (225 Russell Senate Office Building)
Contact: John Rogers
||Representative Meeting (241 Cannon House Office Building)
Contact: Courtney Schlittner
||Depart Capitol Hill
SHRM Staff Contact Information
If at any point you have questions, need guidance and or additional support, please contact SHRM’s Senior Associate of Member Advocacy, Meredith Nethercutt at Meredith.Nethercutt@shrm.org.