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Congress-To-Main Street Meetings

Find your Lawmaker's District Office Contact Info

Community bankers in Utah discuss H.R. 1697

Congress-To-Main Street Meetings are designed to help lawmakers and their staff understand, first-hand, the complexities of the community banking industry.

Be Heard makes it easy for your bank to participate and show off the partnership with Main Street that allows your bank to truly be known as a community bank. Take advantage of these tools to begin or nurture a relationship with your legislator's office. Be Heard will provide the resources to educate you on timely policy issues and effectively communicate with your lawmakers.

SECURING A MEETING

Legislators are more likely to make time in their recess schedules to meet with constituents when asked directly, vice a third party. Use this knowledge to create opportunities to build new relationships or nurture existing ones, directly and personally.

Let Be Heard be the one-stop advocacy shop for all your meeting request and issue briefing resources. The following is a step-by-step checklist for the general protocol to secure a meeting with your member of Congress at your bank.

+ | Step 1 - Submit a Formal Request for a Meeting

Whether an event is scheduled in Washington or back home, the Representative or Senator's Scheduler in their Washington office is generally the gatekeeper of the member's schedule.

Click here for a current staff listing of Congressional Schedulers in the House and Senate and find the correct staffer for the office you wish to secure a meeting with.

After identifying who you need to contact, submit a formal request by fax or mail to the congressional office.

Simply plug-in the requisite address and salutatory information from the contact list. As a matter of protocol, the letter should be addressed to the member of Congress, with the Scheduler and Financial Services Legislative Assistant (if provided) copied at the bottom.

Once you have completed drafting your letter, mail or fax it to the contact information provided above. A fax is strongly recommended as it will be received and submitted for consideration much quicker than a mailed letter. After a reasonable amount of time to accommodate delivery, call the DC office and confirm reception of the request.

+ | Step 2 - Schedule a Meeting

You will likely be contacted by the Representative or Senator's office to schedule the meeting you requested. Do not be alarmed if it takes time for this to happen. Members of Congress are often fully booked a month or more in advance. With the short amount of time allotted for Recess Work Periods, they must be fair with scheduling priorities and previous commitments.

+ | Step 3 - Inform ICBA and Your Colleagues

Meeting with a member of Congress at your bank is an opportunity to represent the entire community banking industry to your lawmaker and the greater Congress. As soon as you have confirmed a meeting with a member or one of their staff, please email all relevant details to Brian Anderson, Director, Congressional Advocacy for ICBA. This will ensure you have all the support and resources you need; whether providing one-pagers on the current top issues affecting community banks, data showing the community bank impact in your state or district, or having an ICBA lobbyist call-in to the meeting to help discuss a technical policy question, ICBA will fully support your advocacy efforts.

Finally, share the opportunity with your colleagues. When it comes to Congress, the more constituent bankers the better. Personally reach out to your fellow bankers nearby and invite them to join you. If you need assistance obtaining contact info for banks in a specific Congressional district or in a nearby radius, Be Heard can help!

+ | Step 4 - How Did It Go?

A meeting with your member of Congress is valuable for promoting a pro-community bank agenda, but it is equally valuable to report on the meeting's outcome. Did the member request specific information that could not be provided during the course of the meeting? Perhaps he/she agreed to sign on as a cosponsor to a particular bill? These are all pieces of information that weave into the overall tapestry of information that guide community bank lobbying activity.

+ | Meeting with Staff?

Staff members are often overlooked when seeking to "meet with Congress". Some people construe a visit from a lawmaker's staff instead of the actual lawmaker as a slight to their cause. This is an enormous misconception.

Congressional staffers are a vital part of every member's office. If you are offered the opportunity to meet with a lawmaker's banking or financial services staffer, you are being handed an excellent opportunity to create a relationship that can delve much deeper on substance and issues than most Members of Congress have the time to devote. Meetings with staffers can generally be much larger in scope, and longer in length than the usual meeting with a Representative or Senator. The opportunity to demonstrate the "big picture" of how your bank is impacting the community is only limited by your own time and creativity.

Staffers may be familiar with banking from a customer perspective, but often the inner mechanics of a community bank are not obvious. A "Community Bank 101" might go far in creating a basic understanding of how a loan is processed from end-to-end, or an explanation of the structure of the staff at the bank and how the limited resources available that can be encumbered by the increasing regulations.

A model example of a meeting with a staffer was on display in August 2011, when ICBA member and President of the People's Bank Co., Jack Hartings in Coldwater, OH, hosted the Staff Director of the Senate Banking Committee Subcommittee on Financial Institutions. A brief glance at the agenda for the meeting shows that Jack and his bank's staff covered everything from regulatory burden on smaller institutions, the application to closing process for a consumer real estate loan, burdensome exam preparation, and a harsh exam environment. They even took the staffer on a driving tour to visit small business and farm customers in the area, emphasizing the strong ties between the bank and the community. Not every meeting will allow for this sort of scope or depth, but it serves as an excellent model for how to engage lawmakers and their staff.

ICBPAC, a top financial advocacy political action committee, contributed $1.8 million to federal candidates for the 2011-12 election cycle, strengthening the community banking industry’s reputation in Washington. Supported by thousands of community bankers, ICBPAC is a vital part of Be Heard.

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