Because a Member voted with you the last time doesn't lock in
that vote on future issues. For maximum yield, every new crop has to be
Although most Members are well prepared for you, don't expect them to be
experts in your affairs unless you make them so.
Don't be led to
believe the staffs run Congress, in spite of what you see as their roles and
influence. The Members do.
Use language Members can understand. Use
examples. Don't talk in terms (acronyms, etc.) you would put in your papers to
a colleague down the hall. Avoid being too technical or detailed unless
Don't be lulled or misled by philosophical
generalities. Don't stereotype Members or staffers, or hold grudges. The one
who fights you today may be your best friend on tomorrow's issue. Know where
each person stands on each issue.
Sometimes Members feel compelled to
remind officials of the Executive Branch just who is elected and who is not.
Neither be offended nor intimidated. Listen and take it as part of the job,
realizing some is wing-flapping for the record, the sound bites, and the folks
On the other hand, think very carefully before
providing Congress the institution or any Member with a lesson in your
Don't remind a Member how many people your contractors employ in his
district, or impacts on him because of a lost contract or budget cut.
Members don't get wrapped around programmatics. Staffs are there to fill
them in. However, when a Member does, he flags a genuine concern.
Members and staff of the Defense Committees really do believe in a strong
national defense, though they question how to get there. Be open and
cooperative with them.
Be polite, but be careful with small talk. The
Washington Redskins' season is okay. Raising recent congressional scandals or
Congress' low public esteem shows incredible naiveté.
RDT&E (research, development, test, and evaluation) and procurement
appropriations (they make things) have stronger constituencies than O&M
(operations and maintenance) appropriations (which don't make things).
Recognize there are a number probably voting against defense most of
the time, and a number voting for. Some need convincing each time.
Recognize the power of serving in Congress and the egos to match.
Members often take themselves more seriously than they do national issues.