Council Business Meeting Materials & Resources
This page provides some resources to help you coordinate with other participants from your state, including:
- List of current Council Members and Day on the Hill registrants (which we’ll keep up to date) to assist in planning;
- List of key Congressional targets based on committee assignments and voting records.
- A template meeting request letter (copied below);
- Form for submitting scheduled meetings to Rail Passengers staff; and
- Schedule of meetings that have been submitted to enable coordination.
(As always, we encourage first timers to read Council Member Thomas J. Girsch’s “A Beginner’s Guide to RPA Day on the Hill.” We find it to be an incredibly useful read at this time of year, and recommend you take time to explore its contents.
STEP 1. TEAM UP
Find out if there are other council members from your state or region who are planning to attend, and combine your efforts. If you can “ride along” with someone who has done it before, you'll quickly start to get a good idea of how it's done. And these meetings are easier when you've got someone else with you.
Staff has provided a list of current Council Members and Day on the Hill registrants (which we’ll keep up to date) to assist in planning.
If you do need help determining who's in your area, reach out to Joe Aiello at [email protected] (Subject: Hill Meetings).
STEP 2. KNOW YOUR STATE'S DELEGATION
As a Rail Passengers council member, you've been elected to represent your entire state. As such, you (and, if you're from a larger state, your fellow council members) will want to meet with as many members of the state's delegation as possible, rather than just your Representative and Senators. So, take a moment to find out who they are. It's also helpful to know if they're on any relevant committees, such as the transportation/infrastructure committee. It's critical to learn where their offices are, as there are three different House buildings and three Senate buildings, and it can take some time to get from one to another; this information will prove useful when scheduling your meetings.
Staff has provided a list of key targets based on committee assignments and voting records.
STEP 3. SCHEDULE YOUR MEETINGS
The purpose of our meetings with Congress and congressional staffers is to build an ongoing relationship, not simply to meet and discuss issues briefly on one day per year. View the scheduling as the first step in building that relationship. And the farther in advance you schedule your meetings, the better. This will give you more flexibility to give yourself a manageable meeting schedule, and will also give you a better chance of having your meeting request accepted. (They usually are, but occasionally a member will decline the meeting request.)
a. If you’re from a larger state with multiple council members, be sure to coordinate with those other members to ensure that nobody’s double‐booking meetings. Divide up the work and decide who will schedule the meetings, who will meet with whom – whether you’re going to go to the meetings as a group or split up, for example – and keep one another in the loop. For states with large (Congressional and RPA) delegations, this can be a bit of a challenge, so communication is key. For larger delegations where you don’t have time to see everyone, prioritize the Senators, the House members of which each of your state’s council members is a constituent, and any member who’s on a committee.
Staff is providing a list of meetings that have been submitted to enable coordination. If you don’t see your meetings on this list, please let Joe Aiello know so we can add them.
b. Start by calling each Representative or Senator's D.C. office. Identify yourself as being with the Rail Passengers Association and ask for contact info for the Senator or Representative's scheduler. This will probably be an e‐mail address, but may be a phone number. Thank them for the information.
c. Contact the scheduler to request a meeting with the Senator/Representative or her/his staffer in charge of transportation and infrastructure issues. You'll probably get a staffer, rather than the member, and that's okay. Here's an example script we suggest:
[Title/Name of Scheduler]:
My name is _____, and I'm a member of the Council of Representatives of the Rail Passengers Association. [If contacting the office of a Senator or the Representative from your congressional district, add that you are a constituent. This matters to them.] On March 30th, the Rail Passengers Association will be holding our annual Day on the Hill advocacy event.
I would like to meet briefly over with [Senator/Representative _____] or [her/his] staffer in charge of transportation and infrastructure to discuss passenger rail issues important to the [state/commonwealth]. With the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, there is a tremendous opportunity to expand passenger rail service in the U.S.—but it will require coordination between advocates and state and federal officials to ensure these programs are implemented effectively.
We will be holding our event in Washington, D.C., so we will be able to meet in person. However, we understand that many offices are still limiting in-person meetings and are available to meet via web-conference or teleconference. Please contact me at your earliest convenience at [phone#] or [e‐mail] to schedule a meeting.
I appreciate your assistance and look forward to meeting with [Senator/Representative _____].
P.S. Rail Passengers Association understands that Member’s Fiscal Year 2023 programmatic requests are tentatively due March 15th, but that this is subject to change depending upon the final passage of the FY22 Omnibus. Any clarity you can provide on FY23 deadlines for outside requests—for both programmatic and Congressional Directed Spending request—would be greatly appreciated.
STEP 4. SEND RAIL PASSENGERS STAFF YOUR MEETING SCHEDULE
Once you have your meetings scheduled, let Rail Passengers staff know about your meetings using the online form. RPA's goal is to touch as many congressional offices as possible, and keeping the main office abreast of your schedule helps them keep a running tab. We will also publish the schedules to other council representatives, to facilitate the “teaming up” (Step 1).
[NB: if you have a spreadsheet of meetings that you would like to submit as a batch, you can simply email them to [email protected], Subject Line: “Spring 2022 Meetings”.]
"We would not be in the position we’re in if it weren’t for the advocacy of so many of you, over a long period of time, who have believed in passenger rail, and believe that passenger rail should really be a part of America’s intermodal transportation system."
Secretary Ray LaHood, U.S. Department of Transportation
2011 Spring Council Meeting