Congressional District Work Period: An Opportunity for Community College Leaders
Photo credit: U.S. House of Representatives Majority Whip
As the month of July comes to an end, the busy period of legislative activity in Congress winds to a pause. This pause typically lasts until lawmakers return to Washington, D.C. in September to address federal funding deadlines and resume any unfinished legislative activities from the first half of the year that need to be addressed before the end of the year.
The recess, as it’s known in DC, means many community college legislative priorities, such as federal investments in our institutions and our students, remain up in the air. However, this time presents lawmakers with ample time to return to their home states and districts to engage with their constituents – be it on the campaign trail or on their official capacity. This gives community college leaders an optimal opportunity to either establish, strengthen, or renew relationships with the lawmakers that represent their campuses.
While the annual visits to Washington, D.C. during our National Legislative Summit are important opportunities to meet with lawmakers and their legislative staff as we share our most urgent priorities, and discuss the impact federal investments have in our programs. We cannot understate how impactful it can be to show lawmakers what a material difference our priorities can make back at home, and highlight areas where their support for additional investments could pay dividends for their constituents.
The “District work period” as it’s called allows lawmakers to be in front of their constituents, to hear from them, and to pitch the many accomplishments they have made over the course of the Congressional session. With that in mind, you could offer space in your college for your Representatives and/or Senators to host community roundtables, host forums, and otherwise engage with community stakeholders. Another area of opportunity to engage with your lawmakers is to invite them to events the college is hosting. As an example, you could invite them to be a keynote speaker at a graduation ceremony/welcome assembly. You could also invite them to the opening of a new program or center that has been funded in part with federal funds.
At ACCT, we have developed tools and guidance to help you host your elected officials in your campus, be a strong advocate for your community college. If you’re unsure where to start, we also provide a resource to help you identify your elected officials’ contact information. Finally, ACCT’s government relations staff is at your disposal and can be reached at email@example.com to help answer questions or provide guidance as you prepare to meet or host your federal elected officials.
José Miranda is the Director of Government Relations at ACCT
Rosario Durán is the Senior Government Relations Associate at ACCT