Why call your representatives?

...because actually speaking with someone makes a big difference. 

 

Getting someone on the phone—even for two minutes—can make a lasting impression. You'll have the listener's attention, the opportunity to answer questions in realtime, and a better chance that the office will follow-up with your concerns. Use our tips and talking points below.

 

 
 
 

>Tips

  • Hellos, Goodbyes, and Tone: Congressional offices are busy, and staff work long hours. A kind hello and goodbye, plus a patient tone throughout your call will most likely reflect well on your issue. Thanking them for their service can be a pleasant change of pace.
  • Introduction: Introduce yourself and state that you're a constituent.
  • Ask to leave a message for your Representative or Senator: To be most effective, callers should leave their name and address, and request a response from the congressperson, even if not prompted. Otherwise it’s quite possible that your call won’t be registered with the office and the conversation will stop with the person you spoke with.
  • Prepare: Know your facts and talking points before you call.
  • Be Brief, Clear, and Concise: Your listener will appreciate your issue more if it is presented well and with respect to their time. If your conversation does carry on, great, but make sure you have made your main points and asks.
  • Make Your Ask: Be sure to ask your representative to do something, whether you are asking them to sign a bill or support a funding level. Keeping to one request is best.
  • Request a Follow-up: If necessary, ask staff to kindly get back to you with your representative's position. Provide your phone number and email, and request their email as well.
  • Can't Get Through?: Offices can get slammed, and sometimes no one is available or able to return a voicemail. If this is the case, try reaching out to your local office. You can also send an email.

>Peace Corps Budget Script and Talking Points

  • Script: "Hello. I am calling today to urge you to support a $450 million budget for the Peace Corps for fiscal year 2020 and to support the bipartisan Peace Corps Reauthorization bill sponsored by Congressman Garamendi which calls for this amount. Peace Corps Volunteers are urgently needed to help allies in developing countries help themselves, spread the best of American ideals overseas, and gain the experience and skills necessary for the next generation of American leadership. America and the world need Peace Corps now. Thank you."
  • Background: Peace Corps’ budget has remained relatively flat since 2015. It is currently funded at $410.5 million. Because funding levels have not been adjusted since 2015, Peace Corps’ effective operating budget has decreased by up to $25 million due to inflation. Peace Corps would need a 10 percent raise to $450 million to keep pace with inflation.
  • The Ask: I urge you to support $450 million for the Peace Corps' Fiscal Year 2020 budget and to support the bipartisan Peace Corps Reauthorization bill sponsored by Congressman Garamendi which calls for this amount.
  • Please note: We provide many talking points for your convenience, and you may not have time to cover all of them. Make sure you make "The Ask" before covering the talking points.

Talking Points

● In March 2019, 181 Members of Congress in the House of Representatives signed a Dear Colleague letter calling for a funding increase for the Peace Corps at $450 million so that the it can successfully carry on its mission. The U.S. Senate followed suit with 41 senators calling for robust funding in a show of strong tri-partisan support.

● The Peace Corps currently costs less money than our military’s musical bands cost annually.

● Peace Corps doesn’t give people aid, it facilitates their efforts to improve their own communities. (Note: this would be a good time to briefly share your own stories of service to emphasize this point).

● A Gallup poll in 134 countries shows that global approval of American leadership is at an all-time low of just 31 percent. The Peace Corps is a sure fire way to subtly win friends in global hotspots like Ukraine, North Africa, and Southeast Asia.

● Many of these Volunteers are working on President Trump’s Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative, and over 20,000 women participate in Peace Corps-led economic empowerment initiatives every month.

● The fiscally responsible agency also enjoys the support of our nation’s military leaders. In February 2017, 121 retired three and four-star generals and admirals wrote to Congress: “Peace Corps and other development agencies are critical to preventing conflict and reducing the need to put our men and women in uniform in harm’s way.”

  • In 2019, 141 generals and admirals wrote an open letter to Congress emphasizing that for every $1 spent on conflict prevention, we save $16 in response costs and avoid sending our troops into harm’s way.
  • As America and the world continue to combat familiar challenges and face new ones, the Peace Corps is needed now more than ever. By training foreign communities in critical areas of need, imparting American culture, and applying their experience, knowledge, and skills to make America’s communities better once they return home, Peace Corps Volunteers provide high impact at a fraction of the budget.

● The Peace Corps benefits America’s economy, security, development, and reputation.

● Fluent in languages, culturally agile, and trusted by local communities, Volunteers are America’s grassroots diplomats, and a Volunteer is often the only American known by a host community.

● America’s model citizens are made in the Peace Corps. 170 Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) affiliate groups and more than 230,000 individuals demonstrate a lifetime commitment to Peace Corps ideals. From serving as members of Congress and as entrepreneurs, to raising funds for Ebola victims and micro-loans for women’s groups, the Returned Peace Corps Volunteer community has a domestic dividend that is unmatched.

>Health Legislation Script and Talking Points

  • Script: (House Only) "Hello. I'm calling to urge your support of the Peace Corps Reauthorization bill sponsored by Congressman Garamendi. This legislation would implement improvements in the health care and safety for Peace Corps Volunteers, and returned volunteers who come home with service related injuries or illness. Peace Corps Volunteers serve our country and deserve the best support possible. Thank you."
  • Background: Peace Corps Volunteers who are severely injured or incapacitated during their service are currently expected to live on $19,000 a year. This must cover their insurance, medications, medical bills not directly related to their service injuries, and all living expenses. These disability payments are covered by the Department of Labor. Peace Corps Volunteers receive payments at the General Schedule (GS) Base Pay 7-level. These Volunteers need to be boosted from the GS-7 pay scale to the GS-11 level with the Department of Labor. The Peace Corps is responsible for reimbursing the Department of Labor for these payments. A preliminary Congressional Budget Office report estimated that this would cost only $1-2 million annually.
  • The Ask: "I am calling today to urge your support of the Peace Corps Reauthorization bill sponsored by Congressman Garamendi. This legislation would implement improvements in the health care and safety for Peace Corps Volunteers, and returned volunteers who come home with service related injuries or illness. Peace Corps Volunteers serve our country and deserve the best support possible. Thank you."
  • Talking Points: More than 230,000 citizens have served our nation with distinction. They deserve our support and respect, and the American government should fulfill the commitment made to them in good faith to support our Volunteers in the event of injuries or illness.

>Non-Competitive Eligibility Script and Talking Points

  • Background: Non-Competitive Eligibility provides Federal employers with the option to apply preferential status to Returned Peace Corps Volunteer applicants. The effectiveness of this beneficial status is periodically in jeopardy with the advent of government shutdowns or Federal hiring freezes.

  • The Ask: "I urge you to support the Peace Corps Reauthorization bill sponsored by Congressman Garamendi. This legislation will, among other things, ensure that the Non Competitive Eligibility status awarded to Peace Corps Volunteers who served their country for two years without pay is not watered down by government shutdowns or hiring freezes. NOTE: There is no Senate companion bill."

  • Please note: We provide many talking points for your convenience, and you may not have time to cover all of them. Make sure you make "The Ask" before covering the talking points.

Talking Points

● Upon completion of service, Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) receive non-competitive eligibility (NCE) status for federal employment. Through NCE status, the federal government is able to prioritize hiring of RPCVs, patriotic, service-oriented Americans who can immediately contribute high-quality skills and policy input to their jobs.

● A loss of NCE status would not only hamper the efforts of the federal government to recruit and onboard ideal employees, it would strip RPCVs of one of the few benefits they receive for their service.

● Additionally, NCE is often the springboard for a lifetime in diplomacy and development for RPCVs, who leverage their language skills, cultural agility and dedication to the service of the United States' mission overseas.

>Respect for Peace Corps Volunteers Act Talking Points

  • Background: H.R. 1411, the Respect for Peace Corps Volunteers Act, honors returned Peace Corps volunteers and former Peace Corps staff by allowing the use of the name and logo of the Peace Corps in an obituary or gravestone. Currently, there is no Senate companion bill.
  • The Ask: I urge you to respectfully honor returned Peace Corps Volunteers and former Peace Corps staff by co-sponsoring H.R. 1411, the Respect for Peace Corps Volunteers Act. You may also co-sponsor the Peace Corps Reauthorization bill sponsored by Congressman Garamendi, which completely incorporates this proposal into its comprehensive legislation.
  • Please Note: We provide many talking points for your convenience, and you may not have time to cover all of them. Make sure you make "The Ask" before covering the talking points.

Talking Points

● This bipartisan legislation would afford returned Peace Corps Volunteers and former Peace Corps staff the dignity of using the Peace Corps name and logo in an obituary or on their gravestone. Current restrictions prohibit these Americans from being recognized for their service to the country and their host communities.

● Since 1961, about 230,000 Americans have served in the Peace Corps and many thousands more have supported their work in critical support roles as staff. For many of them, the Peace Corps remains the most transformative, memorable, and patriotic experience of their lives.

● Not recognizing this service is an added and unnecessary burden in the already difficult circumstance for anyone contemplating end-of-life decisions or for family and loved ones carrying out the wishes of the deceased. Co-sponsoring H.R. 1411 or the Peace Corps Reauthorization bill and allowing returned Peace Corps Volunteers and former Peace Corps staff to have their service recognized is a decent, commonsense decision.

● It would not cost tax payers a dime.