Tuesday, March 03, 2015

How to Connect with Federal Agencies

If you are for or against certain regulations within pieces of legislation like The Affordable Care Act or the Food and Drug Act and want to advocate on those issues, you may think that you should ask your Members of Congress take steps to change the law. However, unless the legislation you care about is up for reauthorization, you’re not going to get very far by asking your Senators and Representative to change the way the law is enforced.  It’s actually federal agencies (for example, the FDA or the FCC) that are responsible for creating the federal regulations that enforce the laws passed by Congress. So if you want a regulation within a passed law to be changed, that falls within the appropriate federal agency’s jurisdiction.

The problem is that reaching out directly to federal agencies will not be incredibly influential on your part. This is because you’re not the one who puts the FCC commissioners in their jobs, and you’re not the one who helps directly finance the commissioner’s budget—Congress is. Congress sets the appropriations and approves the commissioners, so they’re going to be the ones who have the most influence. Since you, as a constituent, influence your legislators and since legislators influence federal agencies, the best course of action for you to take is to ask your Members of Congress to reach out to federal agencies on your behalf. Ask them to write a letter to the agency in regards to the particular regulation you want changed. If you have a question about a regulation, talk to the Legislative Correspondents in your Member’s office and they will kick that question over to the Congressional Relations Office of the appropriate agency. Follow up every couple of weeks until you get a response. The more you demonstrate that you’re interested in it (and the more polite you are about it), the more likely it is that you’ll get a response. 

-  Written by:  Kaytee Yakacki

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