US Lobbying Guide

The goal of this guide is to empower people – everyday citizens who lack any background in lobbying or advocacy, but who are concerned about AI – to meet with their elected officials directly and make their concerns heard as effectively as possible.

Someone with minimal advocacy experience should be able to read through this document and come away feeling empowered and ready to set up a meeting with their Congressional office.

Why is lobbying important?

Meetings with Congress play a vital role in the policymaking process. Members of Congress want to hear from their constituents, in order to help determine which bills to prioritize and which initiatives to champion.

If nothing else, members of Congress want to get re-elected. In order to get re-elected, they need to choose issues that are popular among their constituents. Thus, they need to know what their constituents are thinking on the issues.

Further, most people do not call or write– let alone meet with– their Congressional offices. Meeting directly with your Congressional office can give you a massive, outsized impact and is one of the most effective ways to make your voice heard.

For more on the effectiveness of communicating with Congress, see here


Every U.S. citizen can set up lobby meetings with (at least) three Congressional offices: Their U.S. Representative and both of their Senators.

How to set up a lobby meeting

Step 1: Book your meeting

First, you’ll want to see if your member has a way to book meetings on their website, or if you’ll need to e-mail or call them to arrange the meeting.

To do that, go to this link

and enter your address (just your zip code is sufficient).

Click the “Contact” button, and search their website for a meeting request form. It can look similar to this


If your legislator doesn’t have a specific form, you can navigate to their contact page (example

) and use that to email your meeting request. Or, you can call their office to do the same.

Scheduling a meeting may require some persistence, especially with larger offices. If you tried to book a meeting via your legislator’s website, but haven’t heard anything in 2 weeks or more, you should call their office and follow up.

Plan for 4-6 weeks between your initial scheduling request and the date of the meeting.

Note: pros and cons of district vs. D.C. meetings

All U.S. Congressional offices have both a Washington, D.C. office and a local district office. You may have the option to schedule with either office.

  • The obvious advantage of a district meeting is convenience. It is much easier to have an in-person meeting in your own congressional district than to travel all the way to D.C.
  • However, district offices typically handle constituent services, while D.C. offices handle policy. So D.C. offices are best for discussing policy recommendations.
  • If you are unable to visit your D.C. office in person, some offices do offer scheduled meetings online (though this is more likely for Democratic offices rather than Republican ones). Requesting a Zoom meeting with your D.C. office can be a good bet. Options for scheduling meetings, ranked:
  1. In-person meeting with D.C. office
  2. Online meeting with D.C. office
  3. In-person meeting with district office
  4. Online meeting with district office

Step 2: Do your research

If you want to make the biggest impact possible, you should find ways to connect your agenda with your legislator’s priorities. Ideally, you want to frame the issue in a way that relates to their policy priorities, relevant committee assignments, relevant bills sponsored, etc.

Some questions to answer include:

  • What statements has my legislator made about AI? A quick google search, e.g. “Sen. Peters on AI risk” can go a long way.
  • Does my legislator serve on any relevant committees? You can find committee assignments here
    • Relevant House committees:
      • Homeland Security
      • Education and the Workforce
      • Space, Science, and Technology
    • Relevant Senate committees
      • Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
      • Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
      • Commerce, Science, and Transportation
  • Has my legislator cosponsored or signed any bills related to AI?
    • Database of relevant bills
  • What are my legislator’s policy priorities? How do these relate to AI?
    • You can typically find your legislator’s policy priorities on the “issues” section of their website (example
    • Different policy priorities may relate to AI in different ways. For instance, labor priorities may lead to concerns about job loss/displacement. National security priorities may lead to concerns about malicious actors using AI, etc.

Step 3: Hold the meeting

Once you’ve scheduled a meeting and done your research, now it’s time to prepare for the meeting.

Typically, lobby meetings last ~30 minutes and follow a concrete agenda. Here is one sample agenda for inspiration:

Sample agenda

Intros (5 minutes):

  • Introduce yourself, describe your background and the issue you’re meeting to discuss, and thank staffers for their time.

  • Make sure to leave time for staffers to introduce themselves. Describe issue of concern (10 minutes):

  • Tell a story with the following structure:

    • Context
    • Problem
      • Personal story: How this affects you as a constituent.
    • Solution
    • What lawmakers can do about it.
  • Sample story: - Context: In recent years, AI capabilities have skyrocketed, taking many researchers by surprise. - Problem: Many experts worry that future AIs could pose an existential risk to humanity. We’ve seen growing constituent concern that AI could be used to manufacture pathogens or hack into nuclear launch systems. - Personal story: As a parent, I am frightened about my child’s future, and I want to make sure he grows up in a world where his life is not in danger. - Solution: There need to be safeguards on AI development, such as mandatory third-party evaluations to ensure AI systems aren’t capable of malicious use. - What lawmakers can do: That’s why we support H.R. XXX, sponsored by Rep. XYZ, to establish mandatory evaluations for all AI systems above a certain capabilities threshold. Your ask (5 minutes):

  • Now that you’ve explained the issue, you need to make a clear ask.

  • Sample ask: Can we count on Representative XYZ to co-sponsor/support the bill?

    • The staffer likely won’t have a definitive answer, but will say something like ‘I can’t speak for the Congressman, but will get back to you.’
  • Note: if you don’t have a specific bill you’re supporting, it still helps to make a specific ‘ask.’ This could be e.g. “Congressman X should make AI safety a priority and talk to his colleagues.” Fact-finding and Relationship-building (10 minutes): Ask questions to better understand your Congressperson’s perspective on the issue and related issues.

  • Possible questions include:

    • What other movement in Congress have you seen around this issue?
    • What positions does your Congressperson have on AI and technology policy more broadly?
    • What are your Congressperson’s top priorities this legislative session?
  • Thank them again for their time & tell them you’ll follow up.

Best practices when meeting

  • Appeal to expert opinion. Emphasize that some of the world’s leading experts
    are concerned about AI risk. For instance, you can discuss the Gladstone Report
    , commissioned by the State Department finding a significant chance of AI-induced extinction and recommending sweeping policy actions.
  • Express Gratitude. Acknowledge and thank your legislator for past actions on related issues. Showing appreciation for their efforts not only makes your message more respectful but also more persuasive.
  • Refer to the legislator’s interests. Tailor your message by referring to your legislator’s committee memberships and known interests. Appeal to their focus areas and agendas. Indicating your awareness of their position highlights the level of your concern.
  • Tell a story. Why do you care about AI? Utilize storytelling to make your message stand out. Personal stories are highly effective in capturing attention and making your message memorable. Share how the issue at hand, such as the threat of increased misinformation or job loss, has personally affected you.
  • Be specific. Clearly state your request, whether it’s supporting a specific bill or expressing concern over an issue. Your message should be direct and to the point, outlining exactly what action you expect from the legislator.

Step 4: follow up

So, you’ve met with your legislator. Now what?

Immediately after meeting: send them an email thanking them for their time, re-iterating your ask, and letting them know you’ll be in touch.

2 weeks later: Send a follow-up email re-iterating your ask and including any additional information. For example, if your ask was for your legislator to support a specific bill, inquire into any updates regarding the legislator’s support.

4+ weeks later: schedule a follow-up meeting, if applicable. These meetings can follow similar agendas but can also include updates on policy development. For instance, if your initial meeting advocated for a specific bill, and this bill has since gotten out of committee, you can discuss these updates and push your legislator to do more.

Bonus tips to bring your lobby meetings to the next level

  • Coalition-building: invite multiple people from different backgrounds and organizations to the meeting. This is valuable because it introduces more personal stories and increases the level of visible constituent concern.
  • Two-pagers: give legislative staff a two-page summary of your bill and/or priorities. This is an effective way to get your point across and a common practice for lobbying groups.
  • Consider the timing. If you’re trying to influence a vote or a decision, contact your legislator well in advance, and set up a meeting at least 1-2 weeks before the vote, to ensure your message is taken into account during decision-making.


Who will I be meeting with?

It is unlikely that you’ll meet with your legislator directly. More likely, you’ll meet with one or more members of their staff. These staffers might be specialized in technology policy and be able to provide more information about the legislator’s technology policy positions and priorities.

I feel like I don’t have the expertise to meet with Congress.

Most people who meet with Congressional offices don’t have expertise – they’re everyday people who’ve been affected by an issue and want to make their voices heard.

The thing to remember is that Congressional staff want to hear from you. It is their job to listen to the needs of their constituents. Moreover, by taking the effort to schedule a meeting, you are participating in an active, democratic process as an informed citizen of your country.

What if nobody gets back to me about my lobby meeting request?

Be persistent. If nobody gets back to you, call their office and schedule a meeting over the phone. Follow up as needed. If you’re persistent enough, you will get a meeting.

Credit to Felix De Simone, PauseAI’s organizing director